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Showing posts from 2012

Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette

This is a wonderful dressing for grilled vegetables, salads and is great on pasta salad, for a robust but not overpowering tomato touch. It is easy to prepare and takes literally a minute to throw together.



Ingredients

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
1-2 tsp Celery Salt, to taste
3-4 fresh Basil Leaves, rolled and cut chiffonade
Few grindings of fresh Black Pepper
2 Tbsp of Tomato Concentrate. I prefer the concentrate in the tubes, as it does not have that metallic taste like many pastes in a can.

Just combine all ingredients and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies  You can also put all ingredients into a small jar and shake it vigorously to emulsify. This is an easier method if you plan on storing it afterwards.

Once you have this wonderful vinaigrette, here are some options to put it to good use:

Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad

1 Lb of Pasta, cooked al dente in salted water.
1 medium Red Onion, cut in half and sliced thinly.
1 medium Red Pepper, cut in half and sliced thinl…

Sweet Potato Pie - Vegan Thanksgiving

I really wasn't sure how this would work out, because I had never made a sweet potato pie without eggs and evaporated milk, but it really turned out well.



Ingredients

4 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp canola oil
1¼ cups coconut milk
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Earth Balance Spread, melted - Optional
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Sweetened Coconut

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put the cut sweet potatoes, which have been tossed in the oil into the oven for 30-35 minutes, just until they are soft and just beginning to brown on the edges. Be careful not to burn them. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

In a food processor, combine the cooked sweet potato, coconut milk, melted Earth Balance, vanilla, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Pulse until smooth.

Pour it into your pie crust and sprinkle your sweetened coconut over the top and lightly pres…

MaPo Tofu- My Favorite Sichuan Dish

This has always been a favorite dish of mine and I wanted to find a way to make it without the ground pork. I made it for friends last night and it was really good. It has all of the flavor I love, without the heaviness and greasiness of the pork.

It has a few critical ingredients, which might take a bit to find, but once you have them you will have enough to make it many times. I have divided it into four steps to make it easier to follow. As with all Asian food, make sure to prepare all ingredients before you start cooking.


Ingredients

Step One
Combine these ingredients into a small mixing bowl and mix thoroughly, and set aside.

½ cup Vegetable Broth
1 Tbsp Chili and Garlic Paste
2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tsp Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Cornstarch

Step Two
Preheat your wok until hot and then add 3 Tbsp of oil and stir fry the garlic, ginger, mushrooms and green onions until just slightly softened.

3 Tbsp Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger root,…

Thanksgiving Side Dishes- Vegan

As promised, I have reworked some of my favorite side dishes to be healthier and vegan. It really isn't difficult and I know you will love them. I can particularly recommend the Jansson's Temptation. It is a show stopper.



Jansson’s Temptation 
This is a dish that I first tried in Sweden at a traditional Swedish Christmas table. Leading up to Christmas, restaurants and homes all over Sweden create these amazing tables filled with food of every description; however, this is one dish that you will find on almost every one.
It is rich, indulgent and just fabulous as a side dish.
Ingredients

2 ¼ lbs. of potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced. This is the perfect time to get out the mandoline. I particularly like Yukon Gold for this recipe 2 Large onions, thinly sliced 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance 5 oz chopped Porcini Mushrooms or Shitake Mushrooms 13.5oz. of Silk creamer 2 Tbsp. of breadcrumbs
In a shallow oven proof-baking dish, arrange alternating layers of potatoes, onions, mushrooms and Earth Ba…

Vegan Pancake Experiment

Okay, the kitchen is a mess, and I am on complete sugar rush from trying multiple pancakes, but we have a winner for the best vegan pancakes.

I have to admit, that I was not hopeful when I began, as I couldn't see how the pancakes could be good without the eggs to bind them, but I got a serious surprise. They tasted great without the eggs. I really couldn't tell a difference.

I tried at least 6 recipes and most were a disaster, as they had instructions like 2 Tbsp of baking powder rather than 2 tsp (it blew up like a volcano!) and those sorts of things and they just didn't work properly.

I came up with two recipes, a basic one and then a slightly more cakey one and I will leave it to you to decide which one you feel is best. Although I must say the basic one seemed fine to me.




Ingredients

Basic Vegan Pancakes

1 cup of AP Flour
2 tsp of Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Soy Milk 
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

A Little Extra Something Vegan Pancakes

1 cup of AP Flour
2 tsp of Bak…

Vegan Cooking- Are you kidding, I could never!

Yes you can and it's not hard to do. I thought a listing of the vegan recipes that are already in the blog might be of help to those of you who are interested in giving it a shot. Over the next few weeks, I will be working to change over some of my favorite recipes. If they just don't taste right, trust me, I will be honest and say so.


The most interesting thing I have found over the last weeks, is how many dishes I had which were already vegan or just needed a slight modification to become so. It really is easy to do, so start cooking. August 2012 Salsa de Chili de Arbol - Vegan Salsa Roja - Vegan July 2012 Cole Slaw with Pineapple and Toasted Sesame Oil - Just substitute the mayonnaise for vegan mayo and you are good to go. Sweet Potato Salad- Just substitute the mayonnaise for vegan mayo and you are good to go. June 2012 Roasted Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salad - Vegan May 2012 Vegetarian Chili- It is indeed vegan as well. April 2012 Eggplant Parmesan – Just sub out the regular cheese w…

Piedmont Roasted Peppers

As I promised, I am reworking some of my own recipes and a few stand out recipes from fellow bloggers to try and introduce options into my vegan diet. I am now into my third week and doing really well and feeling great.


Here is a vegan version of a dish from one of my fellow bloggers. I agree with her that these are just perfect and great with a nice crusty bread.



Ingredients

4 large Red Peppers 4 medium Tomatoes 3 Tbsp Shitake or Porcini Mushrooms, chopped 3- 4 large cloves Garlic 10 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 bunch of fresh Basil Freshly ground Black Pepper Sea Salt Loaf of crusty Bread, Como or Focaccia
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Begin by cutting the peppers in half lengthways, removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact. (They're not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape)
Lay the pepper halves in a lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute then drain th…

Salsa de Chili de Arbol

Staying with the Spanish/Mexican theme, I made a wonderful, albeit, very spicy salsa last night. Sorry, no step by step pics this time.

I have had this many times at taco stands and in Mexico, but never tried to make it myself, and it is really quite something. Be warning it is hot, but it is a fast hit of heat and then it fades. The smoky, nutty flavor is worth every tear.


Ingredients

30 Chili de Arbol, with hard stems cut off
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3-4 Roma Tomatoes, cut into quarters
4 cloves of Garlic
½ cup Water
2 -3 tsp Salt

Begin, but sautéing the chilies in the oil until they take on a nice golden color. Do not let them burn, or you will need to start over. Usually it takes about 5- 10 minutes on medium heat while stirring frequently.
When they are done, turn them over into a food processor or blender, and then add the tomatoes, salt and the whole garlic to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the water and continue sautéing until the tomatoes are cooked and some of the cooking…

Carne en salsa de almendras or Valencian Pork in Almond Sauce - Part One

I saw this recipe in Rick Steins' Spain and thought it looked amazing,  so I ran off to the market and gathered all of the ingredients.

It's a very basic dish but has some instructions that I've not used before, so I took my time in pulling it together. In the process, I decided to try something bit different and take some step by step pictures. I hope this gives you a better idea of how to bring it all together.

Ingredients

2.5 lbs of Pork Shoulder, cut as shown below
Flour
8 cloves of Garlic, 4 whole and 4 chopped
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 slice of bread
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
1 cup of White Wine
1 cup of Chicken Stock
3 oz toasted blanched almonds
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley
Sale and Black Pepper

Begin, by slicing your pork into long pieces and removing most of the fat. Then cut them into relatively large pieces.


Now heat up 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in your pan, and then lightly sauté the 4 whole garlic cloves, and then brown the bread o…

Carne en salsa de almendras or Valencian Pork in Almond Sauce, Part Two

Now add the last tablespoon on oil to the pan and add the onions, bay leaves, smoke paprika and thyme and gently sauté them until the onions are translucent. This is how they should look when they are done.


Now add in your wine and stock and bring to a boil and then add in you pork.  Here is how it will look just before you put on the cover to finish cooking. Cover and cook on a gently simmer for 1 1/2 hours or longer until the pork is soft and tender.


When the dish is almost done, take 1 cup of the sauce along with your fried bread, whole garlic cloves, parsley and toasted almonds and puree them (this is called a picada) and then add the picada into the dish and then cook for another 5 to 10 minute uncovered until the sauce thickens.

When finished, serve with roasted potatoes, or a side of rice. A spanish style rice would be lovely.


Wine Suggestion: I would serve this with a crisp Albarino from Spain.

Salsa Roja- Mexican Roasted Salsa

Based upon the fact that the entire batch was eaten in one evening, I would say this is a thumbs up. There are so many types of salsa, but I find this one particularly good, because the ingredients are roasted prior to combining.

In many traditional Mexican recipes, the ingredients are roasted in a pan or fried in oil. I wanted to make it easier to prepare and a bit less fat and oil, so I did it this way and I was very happy with the results.


I really do think this is easier to make with a food processor, but if you want to be traditional, you can use a mortar and pestle, or as they are called in Mexico, molcajete.

The key to making this special is the roasting, so before you begin, preheat your oven to 375F or 190C. Then prepare all of your vegetables as described below.

Ingredients

8 Roma Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Large Onion, peeled and cut into 4 quarters.
2-3 Jalapeno or 1-2 Serrano Chilies if you want it hotter
6 cloves of Garlic, peeled

Lie them all on a non stick baking sheet, skin s…

Cider Pot Roast

As it is 104F here today, it might seem odd that I am posting a recipe for Pot Roast, but I just found this recipe again, so wanted to share it. I think this is good any time of the year. What could be more simple and comforting than pot roast?  I put this on early in the day and allow it cook all day long. This is key to getting a pot roast that just falls apart when you look at it. I find my slow cooker is ideal for this recipe.


The cider vinegar and apples create a sweet and sour flavor that is a perfect balance. It is very similar to a German sauerbraten. Serve it as a one-pot meal, or add rice, bread or noodles to feed more.
Ingredients

4 lb Beef Roast, a sirloin or chuck roast is perfect. 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil 1 large Onion, sliced thinly 1 large Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and chopped 1 lb baby Carrots 1 cup chopped Celery
1 Bay Leaf ½ cup Cider Vinegar 1-2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar 1 can Tomato Paste 1 bottle of Dark Beer, such as Spaten or Guinness 1 Tbsp Sea Salt Freshly ground Black Pe…

Chili Pepper Experiment - Amazing!

One of my favorite things about the summer is being able to grow my own organic veg. This year I decided to try an experiment and I wanted to share my results. Maybe I am the only person that didn't know this, but either way, I think it's very interesting. What do they say, "small minds amuse easily"?
I choose to grow jalapeño chili peppers this year amongst other vegetables, however, I wanted to see if the chilies would change if they were left on the bush longer. I have always preferred red chili peppers, as I found them more robust in flavor, but in the past, I thought they were a different variety, and this is why they were red rather than green. Guess what, this is not the case.
Here is a photographic study of my chilies as they changed from green to a wonderful red. As you can see, early on they are a lovely green and the flavor while already quite spicy and flavorful, is still a bit bitter and tart.

Now, they are in a transitional stage, which is really amazing, …

Saveur #149- The Mexico Issue

I am a big lover of Saveur magazine and enjoy reading it for the interesting articles and fantastic recipes. If you like Mexican food, and I mean the real cuisine of Mexico, then this is your issue.




Here are some of the recipes in this issue. Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas, Pork and Black Bean Stew, Chicken with Pumpkin Seed-Tomatillo Sauce, Fresh Pineapple Salsa, Peanut and Arbol Chili Salsa and Pumpkin Seed Salsa. For dessert, how about Mexican Bread Pudding with cinnamon, cheese, raisins and almonds. Yummmmm!

BBQ Side Dishes

Summer is a great time for BBQ and since I shared a few of my favorite BBQ staples (Sun Dried Tomato and Macadamia Nut Pesto and Roasted Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salad), I wanted to add a few other fun ideas to really make your BBQ special.

Deviled Eggs
I can’t imagine a better BBQ side than this, and they will really go fast. I recently made 48 of them for a party and I can tell you they were gone before dinner started.
If these don't remind you of church picnics and Southern family reunions, then nothing will. I remember some of the best from the church picnics as a little boy in Museville, Virginia. If you know where this is, then we’re probably related! This is my grandmother’s recipe, so it’s really special to me.
Ingredients

1 dozen eggs ½ cup Mayonnaise 2 Tbsp. Sweet pickle 1 tsp. Dry mustard (Coleman’s is perfect) 2 tsp. Cider vinegar Paprika or cayenne (for the Deep South folks) or Tabasco for the bayou people.
Put the eggs into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil a…

Thai Food Alert- Great Online Resource for Thai Groceries and Recipes.

Don't know what to make for the weekend? Then visit one of my favorites sites www.importfood.com .

Not only do they have a very comprehensive online grocery for almost all Asian, specifically Thai items, they also have recipes http://importfood.com/recipes.html and the most amazing videos http://importfood.com/vendor_video/thai_street_vendor_videos.html which show you how the street vendors make the dish in Thailand.



Vist them at this link for an amazing Pad Thai recipe. http://importfood.com/recipes/tstirfryNoodle.html

Three Things on a Plate- Umami Meatloaf and Sides

When I have a bit more time to cook, I love to make what we call "three things on a plate". This is a main dish, and two sides.

It's real home style comfort food and if you plan it accordingly, it isn't too much work to pull it together. The key is to simplify and keep it basic.


Here's the menu:

Mini Umami Meatloaf
Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Lime Butter Yellow Corn

Mini Umami Meatloaf
These are really easy and fun to make. Children love them, as they get their own mini meatloaf. The process to prepare is the same, except you cook it in a 12 cup muffin tin.

Ingredients 

1 lb of Lean Ground Beef
1 lb of Lean Ground Pork, if you don't eat pork, then you can substitute Ground Veal
1 tsp Umami Paste
1 packet of Instant Onion Soup Mix, or 1 packet French Onion Dip mix.
3/4 cup Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
3/4 cup of Water
1 Egg
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Ketchup, Optional

Preheat you oven to 350F. Gently mix all ingredients together, except the water. Once all the other ingredients a…