Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vegan Jambalaya

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I don't know why, but I'm really into eating rice recently. I'm not usually a big rice eater, but the idea of an one-pot-wonder appeals to me. And rice is the perfect carb for it. Here, we have a vegan jambalaya and it is delicious. I tried yet another meat substitute -- Trader Joe's Beef-less Ground Beef -- and it adds some texture and flavor to this dish.

You'll need:
  • 1 cup of white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 yellow onion, small diced
  • 2 celery sticks, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you like it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package ground meat substitute (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy, preferably non-stick pot, heat up olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add red pepper flakes. Stir in chopped celery, onion and bell pepper. Sweat until vegetables become soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, dried oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, and Bay leaves. Cook gently until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add rice, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water/vegetable stock and ground meat substitute (if desired). Season with salt and pepper. Bring liquid to simmer. Turn the heat all the way down. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes, undisturbed. After 45 minutes, stir then cover. Turn off heat without removing the lid. Allow the rice to steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Caribbean Rice and Beans (and Soy Chorizo)

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I tried my hand at making some rice and beans with a bit of Caribbean flare. I made some rice infused with coconut juice and aromatics like ginger, garlic and thyme. The rice was fluffy and sweet and the kitchen smelled so amazingly fragrant. And then I screwed it all up by adding Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo. Don't get me wrong -- the end result was delicious. But not because I did anything particularly magical or imaginative. In the end, all I tasted was the spices in soy chorizo. I'm still posting this recipe because it was pretty tasty, but I suspect that you'd get a similar result if you just combined some plain white rice with a can of beans and some soy chorizo.

You'll need:
  • 1 cup short grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup coconut juice
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package of soy chorizo, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt to taste
  • wedges of lime (optional garnish)
  • chopped scallion (optional garnish)
Cook the rice with coconut milk mixed with 1 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. If you're using a rice cooker, more power to you. If not, bring a pot containing coconut water mixture and rice to boil. Once the liquid boils, turn the heat way down. Cover and simmer undisturbed for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes.

Begin by sauteing onion in canola oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, jalapeno peppers and grated ginger. Continue to cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Mix in soy chorizo and saute until browned. Once the rice is cooked, fluff with fork and stir in soyrizo mixture and red kidney beans. Serve with a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of chopped green onion.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mystery Produce of the Week: Shishito Peppers

Pin It On Sunday, VB and I visited our local farmer's market. I gotta say that I'm not the biggest fan of farmer's markets. Granted, you support local farmers and vendors by buying there, it's fun and exciting, you get great, fresh produce, blah blah blah. All good things, of course. But one dirty little secret of farmer's market is -- it's expensive. Sometimes, it's kind of a (dare I say it?) ripoff. A long time ago, VB and I tried a jar of Indian marinate that we both liked, only to find out (painfully) at checkout that it's $11 for a tiny jar. Since then, we avoided the farmer's market to ease the memory of that expensive purchase.

I still think farmer's market is overpriced. But we went anyway and picked up a pint of shishito peppers for $4. Yes, I think that was a splurge. We spent all the money in our wallets (thankfully we only had $30) and left with a huge bag of stone fruit and some other random stuff. Not the most thrifty purchases ever, but at least I won't have haunting memories of that tiny jar of Indian marinate either.

I simply sauteed the peppers until soft with some red peppers flakes. Right before serving, I drizzled them with a little bit of sesame oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and sprinkled with some white sesame seeds. These were served as a side dish to our vegan reuben sandwiches, along with some thyme roasted potatoes and homemade sour pickles.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sweet Whole Grain Bread

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Although I enjoy baking once a while, I'm not much of a baker. I tend to think that baking doesn't give me enough room to experiment, since bakers must follow recipes exactly to get the right product. But I'm still going to try to experiment just a bit. I took this whole grain bread recipe and made various substitutions and changes to make my own whole grain bread. And! It turned out great! The smell of sweet yeasty bread lingered for hours.

You'll need 2 days and the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
Remaining ingredients:
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon active yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or poppy seeds
The day before you plan on baking, mix all starter ingredients together. Knead for a few minutes, then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave overnight. In a separate bowl, soak multi-grain cereal with water. Add salt. Set aside and leave overnight.

On baking day, drain multi-grain cereal of any excess water. Mix starter dough with soaked multi-grain, almond meal, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and yeast. Knead lightly to combine. Set aside, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

On a floured surface, combine dough with all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes until smooth. Place dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise for an hour.

Cut dough into two equal pieces. Flatten and roll into an oblong oval shape. Mold the dough into a football or torpedo shape by tapering the ends. Turn dough, seam side down, onto a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Gently shake the pan to make sure that the dough doesn't stick to the baking sheet. Cover and allow dough to rise again for 45 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degree. Pour a cup of boiling cup of water into an oven proof pan. Place the pan on the bottom rack. Slit the middle of the dough. Brush on some canola oil or olive oil. Sprinkle on sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake on the top rack for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and allow bread to cool for a few hours before serving.

Despite being whole grain and (mostly) whole wheat. the bread is very tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. It is slightly sweet and yeasty. Totally delicious and not bad for an improvising baker!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shredded Daikon Cake (蘿蔔絲餅)

Pin It We usually eat at home on weekdays and head out on weekends. Over the past weekend, we both had cravings for some Chinese food, but didn't end up going to a Chinese restaurant. So I promised VB that we'd have Chinese food at home this week. This is just a long explanation of the sudden Chinese food kick that we're on.

Here we have another dim sum classic -- shredded daikon cake. I'm not super happy with the filling or maybe I just under-seasoned, in any event, I'm not going to post a recipe now. But I can post some pictures!

Filling inside the dough. So far so good.
It's a bun now....
It's a pancake later.
Nice and crispy after some light pan-frying.
Shredded daikon cake being consumed.
Raisin says: "I think you forgot the meat."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wontons with Red Chili Oil (红油抄手)

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This is a classic Szchuan dish made vegan. Traditionally, this dish has two components -- small one-bite wontons and red chili oil. It is almost always served as an appetizer or snack. Since mine is meant to be enjoyed as the main dish, my wontons are overstuffed and the size of regular wontons that you're likely to find in wonton noddle soup. Mine is certainly not the traditional take, but I think it captures the spirit of the dish.

You'll need:
  • 1 recipe of wontons, below
  • 4 cups of bok choy, blanched for 3 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons chili oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (Sriracha is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
For the wontons, you'll need:
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers (I used the medium thickness kind because I like the chewiness of the thicker wrapper and I need something that will hold all the stuffing. Traditionally, you would use the thinner wrapper)
  • 16 ounces vegetarian ham or firm unflavored bean curd, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced (about 1 stalk) celery (I prefer Chinese celery, but it can be hard to find. Regular would do just fine in a pinch.)
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and minced
  • 1 scallion, minced (both green and white parts)
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten together with a little water (if you want to keep this vegan, substitute egg with a slurry of 2 tablespoons water and 2 teaspoons starch -- flour, potato, corn, tapioca, or something similar)
Combine chili oil, chili sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Mix well and set aside.

Combine minced vegetarian ham, celery, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, scallion, sesame oil, ground white pepper and salt. Mix well.

Place filling mixture in the center of the wonton wrapper.
Wet two adjacent edges with egg wash or starch slurry. Fold wet edges onto dry edges to form a triangle. Pinch shut.
Wet one acute angle and fold onto the opposite angle, like the wonton is hugging itself. Pinch shut.
Boil wontons in a large pot of water for 3 to 5 minutes. Place cooked wontons on top of bed of blanched bok choy. Drizzle with red chili sauce mix. Serve.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Onion Focaccia with Roasted Tomatoes

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I bake when I don't have a lot of fresh produce on hand (too lazy for the grocery store run). For dinner, I had some left over tomatoes and some jalapenos that didn't make it into the pickle jar. So I baked an onion focaccia and roasted some tomatoes with some garlic and thyme from our herb garden. As for the jalapenos, I made some jalapeno poppers with some leftover soy cheese and soy cream cheese.

You can find the onion focaccia recipe in The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook: 350 Essential Recipes for Inspired Everyday Eating. As for the roasted tomatoes, simply combine some diced tomatoes, thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and sugar and roast in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. The jalapeno poppers recipe is the same one as the one that VB made a long time ago. But this time, we have better pictures!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Pickling Fun

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It took us about a year to finish the pickled vegetables that we made last summer. It was such a success that we decided to do it again this year. We streamlined the process and focused on cucumbers and jalapeno peppers this year. Also, we used the canning process to make a shelf stable product. The fridge pickles were good, but they took up too much valuable territory. This time, we can tuck away these jars in the pantry and use them when we need them. In a couple of weeks, we'll find out if these turned out successful or not. Until then, let's just admire all these pretty jars...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Homemade Pasta

Pin It Happy Fourth of July! I wish I can say that we're doing something fabulous today, but I caught a cold (yes, in the middle of summer... weird) and feel pretty lousy at the moment. So no big barbeque for us today, but I did try my hands at making fresh pasta a few days ago and here are photos from the process.

3 eggs and 2 cups of flour.
After incorporating enough flour with the eggs, I cut the egg mixture and flour together to form a shaggy dough.

Kneaded the dough for a few minutes into a smooth ball.
The dough rested for 30 minutes and then cut into 4 pieces. Then each piece was passed through the pasta machine.
I could only get the pasta to the second thinnest setting (6). Close enough. Then the pasta sheet was cut into strips.
Boil pasta immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Mix with pesto, baby arugula and paper thin shaved fennel. Ta-da!
It turns out, making pasta is not as hard as previously imagined, although it did take a lot longer than I expected. The hardest part by far was trying to get a thin sheet of pasta without the pasta sticking to itself. Setting 6 was good enough for me. I actually wanted a thicker pasta after tasting the final product. So maybe it doesn't have to be paper thin. Overall, great success! Certainly heck a lot better than our last attempt. Let's never speak of that again.