Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 14 (Buckwheat Soba)

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese over Spinach

I didn't take a picture of last night's dinner.  I should have, I know.  But I was starving and in a hurry (story of my life), and I attacked my dinner because I only had five minutes to get it down and out the door.  There was only barely enough leftovers for me to put together some for lunch today, which is what you see above.

Today I did some experimenting.  Some of it worked, and I was amazed.  Some of it most decidedly did not work, but we ate it anyway.

I've been wanting to make soba with 100% buckwheat flour.  Buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, so it's acceptable in most Paleo kitchens.  I say most, because as I've researched, there is a strict faction of Paleo eaters that eschew even grain-like seeds.  I don't think I want to be that strict.

I went about making the noodle dough the same way I've made it with wheat flour:  in the Bosch.  I was dismayed when the dough didn't seem to be holding together.  I added a drizzle of water and cranked it to high mixing power.  Still, it didn't make a nice ball of dough.  I stopped the mixer and squooshed the dough together with my hand.  It seemed to holding, so I pulled it out and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a few minutes.  (The recipe said to do that, and that's good, because all my pots were still dirty from yesterday and I needed to clean one in order to finish cooking dinner.)

With trepidation, I cut off a piece of dough to send it through the pasta machine.  Would it work?  Or would it ruin my pasta maker?  It took a little trial and error, but I figured out the best size of dough to start with.  Then I ran it through the press two times at 1, two times at 2, etc., up to size 4.  I then sent it through the fine noodle cutter.  (I did try thinning it to size 5, but it fell all to pieces.  I don't recommend doing that.)

Buckwheat pasta -- it's actually working!

Resting soba

While the noodles were resting, I started the vegetables.  I had meant to make my friend Miriam's Buckwheat Noodles with Sweet and Spicy Chicken, modifying it to fit our Paleo guidelines, but I realized too late that I hadn't given any thought ahead of time to how the modifications would be made.  I didn't even remember to buy mushrooms!  I briefly considered dashing to the store, but I needed to have dinner on the table, in my tummy, and myself in the car in fifteen minutes.  Time for some creative substitutions.

I sliced and stir fried carrots and broccoli until the broccoli was bright green.

Then I tossed a quart size bag of shredded chicken on top.  Thinking very quickly, I yanked a jar of my homemade apricot juice from the pantry (when I say apricot juice, I mean an experiment from last spring involving a brand new steam juicer and an abundance of apricots -- and when I say pantry, I mean a set of wire shelves in the back of my three-quarter-car garage).  I made a little "sauce" with apricot juice, honey, and chili garlic sauce.  I poured that over everything and slapped a lid on the pan so the vegetables could steam a bit.

Sweet and Spicy Stir Fry over Soba
What can I say?  It was absolutely scrumptious!  I'd add more of that chili sauce next time.  I could hardly tell there was any in it.

After I got home from rehearsal tonight, I decided to attempt to invent Paleo tortillas.  I looked up my old flour tortilla recipe that I've made several times:  flour, salt, shortening, water.  That should be easy to modify, I thought.   The first step is to heat the shortening and water in the microwave until very hot.  I substituted coconut oil for the shortening, and put that and the water in a glass measure in the microwave.  Don't do this.  After about 40 seconds, there was a loud POW! and I opened the microwave to find water and melted coconut oil dripping from everywhere.  Most smart people would have switched to a pot on the stove at this point.  Not Ms. Julie.  *sigh*  I wiped down the microwave, put a microwave-safe cover over the glass measure, and tried again.  POW!  Okay, I learned my lesson.  Scrap that idea.

I stirred (what was left of) the water and coconut oil into almond flour.  It was very, very thin.  Not at all like the flour tortilla dough I used to make.  Still, I figured I might be able to spread it around once it was on the pan.

Failed tortilla idea #1

It didn't work so well.  It was like a dense paleo pancake, with very little flavor.  Ballerina said she wished we had some paleo salsa to put on it.  The failure didn't deter her from nibbling on it until it was gone, though (kind of like the rare occasions when I'd overbake the cookies -- which hardly ever happened -- I'd tell the girls they had to make the Shameful Cookies disappear).  I didn't want to waste the rest of the "dough", so I cracked an egg into it and cooked it like a regular paleo pancake.  We drizzled honey on it and shared bites while I made attempt number two.

I found a Coconut flour crepe recipe here that suggested it could be used as a tortilla.  I gave it a go.

Failed tortilla idea #2

It turned out like you might expect -- coconut egg-white omelet.  It was pretty tasty, and I thought it might actually work for wrapping around sandwich-type fixings...until it started to get cold.  I don't know about you, but cold fried egg-white isn't my favorite.  *shudder*  Scrap that idea, too.

One last creative attempt.  I made the coconut crepe recipe above, but used one whole egg instead of the egg whites.  It cooked beautifully...

...and it tasted wonderful with a little almond butter, sliced bananas, and the lightest drizzle of honey on top.  Not a tortilla, not at all, but still a very tasty final meal of the day (and a great idea for Ballerina's breakfast in the morning).

Failed tortilla idea #3

All during the tortilla experiments, I kept thinking about that scene in Meet the Robinsons, where the genius kid fails at fixing the pb&j shooter, and everyone says, "You failed!  And it was awesome!"

Okay, here's what we ate today:

Meal #1
Sliced banana, almonds, coconut milk

Meal #2
spinach, spaghetti squash, bolognese

Meal #3
Apricot Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

Meal #4
Coconut crepe, banana, almond butter, honey

Apricot Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir Fry
Stir fry sliced carrots and broccoli in a little coconut oil until broccoli is bright green.  Cover with cooked, shredded chicken.  Mix together 1/2 c. apricot juice (you can certainly substitute whatever juice you have on hand, or just use water, or use water plus some cut up dried apricots), 1/4 c. honey, and at least 1 tsp. chili sauce (I used 1/2 tsp. and it wasn't nearly enough).  Cover and let steam until vegetables are tender-crisp.

Serve over buckwheat soba.

100% Buckwheat Soba
300g buckwheat flour

3 eggs (medium)

Place the flour in a food processor and while the motor is running add the eggs. You should have a soft and moist breadcrumb mixture. Turn the flour out onto a work surface and bring the dough together with your hands. Knead the dough for 5 minutes so that you have a ball of dough. Cover the dough and place it in the refrigerator for 10-60 minutes.

Roll the pasta dough one thickness at a time until it's thin enough to send through the pasta cutter.  Let the noodles rest while you bring a large pot of water to boiling.  Cook the noodles until they rise to the top (about 2 - 3 minutes).


  1. So, can you not use corn flour in your paleo tortillas?

    Big Sis

  2. No, corn is a grain, and grains are not part of the Paleo plan.