Green Curry Noodle Soup with Braised Pork • Thai Vegetable Slaw • Levain Rolls • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
We started out with “one day at a time,” then after a while it was “one week at a time.” This new idea of pep-talking ourselves “one month at a time” through the rest of this shelter-in-place feels pretty awful. There are so many silver linings to this lockdown/quarantine/shelter-in-place situation, really there are, but also I’d like my kids to be able to see their friends again. They’re not the introverts that I am, and online friendships do not replace real-life face-to-face interactions. But still! We’re all healthy, and we love each other, and bills are getting paid, and we have enough to eat. And holy moly, are we going to hug the heck out of our friends when we get to see them again.
For dinner tonight we’ve got a green curry broth with rice noodles, vegetables, and braised pork. I went out in my yard while I was cooking, and my neighbor asked “what is that delicious smell?” When green curry paste hits hot oil in the bottom of a soup pot, the scent explodes everywhere. It smells so good, you have no idea. Besides the curry paste, the soup’s flavor is built up from tons of aromatics and spices: garlic and ginger, allspice, pepper, coriander, star anise, and a few cloves. Tender braised pork shoulder and slippery rice noodles round out this fragrant and filling bowl.
It’s also a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure meal. As is, the soup is light and spicy and refreshing. If you like, you can add the garnish of coconut milk, which adds a layer of richness and tones down the spice. The noodles go into the jar soaked but not fully cooked; be sure to heat your soup up all the way to hot-hot (not just warm) to finish cooking the noodles and get them nice and soft.
My parents’ garden is coming into its spring glory: flowers everywhere and the herbs are coming back from their winter dormancy. Bunches of mint went into the salad today, a vegetable slaw (cucumbers, cabbage, celery) with shallots, mint, and peanuts. I could eat this salad every day.
Dessert is pineapple upside-down cake, which usually has a retro 50s vibe. I think when it’s made with fresh pineapple, it fits our semi-tropical theme. There’s a trick to using fresh pineapple instead of canned; it needs to be pre-cooked or else it could release so much juice that your cake pans (or jars, in this case) will bubble up and overflow in the oven. The bonus to cooking the pineapple before it goes into the jars is that all that delicious juice gets reduced down to an intensely flavored syrup. Most of the reduced pineapple juice went into the brown sugar & butter mixture, but I stirred some of it into the cake batter too, for layers of deliciousness. Heads-up that you’ll need to warm up your cake, either for 30 seconds in the microwave or for 3-4 minutes in the oven (you can put it in at the same time you warm your bread). If you try to turn it out onto a plate while it’s cold or room temperature, it will stick stubbornly to the jar. If you warm the cake up first, it will slip out much more obligingly, and you’ll get to see all that glorious caramelized pineapple on top where it belongs.
Enjoy your dinner my friends.