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Showing posts from August, 2015

Singapore Noodles

My friend was visiting from the UK and made this for dinner and it was off the charts. He is originally from Singapore and while this is not an authentic Singaporean dish, it is very good and very healthy. I like to serve it with my homemade chili paste. 

Ingredients

½ lb Ramein Noodles, rice vermicelli or thin spaghetti 1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Seed Oil 1 cup sliced Shitake Mushrooms ½ cup thinly sliced Cabbage or Bok Choy ½ cup thinly sliced Carrots ½ cup thinly sliced Red Pepper 1 Tbsp Oil 1 cup sliced Onions 2 Tbsp shredded Ginger Root 4 cloves of Garlic, sliced 1 tsp Salt 2 tsp Curry Powder, 1 Tbsp if you like it spicy. ½ tsp Turmeric 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce Dash of Fish Sauce, optional 1 tsp Sugar 3 Tbsp chopped Green Onions 1 Tbsp chopped Cilantro
Blanch noodles according to instructions, drain and rinse with cold water to wash off starch and drain. Do not overcook. Sprinkle a little sesame seed oil to coat, and set aside.
Slice the shitake mushrooms, bok choy, carrots, red pepper and toss individually in v…

London Dining Guide

London is a vibrant culinary destination  Anyone who says the food in London is bad, is uninformed. London has every cuisine imaginable and in all price ranges. I can honestly say it's one of my favorite culinary cities. It's hard to think of a cuisine that is not represented.



In light of that, please understand that this is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a few of my personal favorites. I don't want to start getting comments like,"how could you not have included ...."

Since there are so many little gems, it never hurts to ask a Londoner, and they can likely steer you to something off the beaten track. 

Reservations and Tipping

Reservations are usually required in most good restaurants. Book far in advance for the top ones. You can book a lot of good London restaurants at http://www.opentable.co.ukIt is not unusual for them to tell you that they need to have the table back in 2 hours. They are not being rude; they say that to everyone, including the loca…

Storing tomatoes - Who knew it was this easy?

Now that autumn is just around the corner, I wanted to share a great tip about storing tomatoes. One year I planted 3 San Marzano tomato plants and I had so many tomatoes, it was impossible to cook them all. I was still getting baskets of tomatoes in late September, so I had to find a solution.

After picking another basket of beautiful San Marzanos, I just took them and put them into a gallon freezer bag and put them into the freezer. No washing, no fuss and they were still warm from the garden. 


About two weeks later I remembered them and was expecting the worse, but when I took them out to make a sauce, they were perfect. I put a little bit of lukewarm water on them and the skins came right off and I then chopped them and made a wonderful sauce. They had lost none of their flavor. 

The only important thing to remember, is that this will only work for tomatoes you plan on using for cooking, as the texture will not be suitable for slicing.

I picked my last batch in early October and then …

Vegan MaPo Tofu - My favorite Sichuan dish.

Staying with our Asian theme, here is a favorite dish of mine. I wanted to find a way to make it without the ground pork, so it would have all of the flavor I love, but without the heaviness and greasiness of the pork. 

It has a few critical ingredients, which might take a bit of time to find, but once you have them you will have enough to make this dish many times. 

I have divided it into four steps to make it easier to follow. Give the recipe a quick read, so you know what ingredients to have prepared prior to starting 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 tsp 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…

Vegan Kung Pao Tofu - Spicy, Smokey, Sour and Sweet

When I crave Chinese food, this is the flavor I want, spicy, sour, sweet and savory. I believe  that's why this dish is so popular, as it gives you most of the essential tastes combined into one dish.


This dish combines the smoky flavor of dark soy sauce, the freshness of green onion and the crunch of peanuts. I have made this dish many times, but as I often do, I have kept modifying it, and I really do feel I have developed a stunning recipe.



Ingredients

1 8oz package of super firm Tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tbsp of Hot Bean Paste

After cutting the tofu, mix in the hot bean paste and set aside.
Sauce Mixture: 1 Tbsp of Shaohsing Rice Wine, dry Sherry is a suitable substitute.
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar 1 Tbsp of Dark Soy Sauce 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce 1 Tbsp of Toasted Sesame Oil 1 Tbsp of Light Brown Sugar 2 Tbsp of Water 1 Tbsp of Cornstarch

Prepare the sauce mixture just before beginning to cook and set it aside.
4 cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
6-8 dried whole Red Chilies
1 inch piece of fresh G…

Vegetarian Chili - Spicy, healthy and really good.

I love chili, and I am very committed to making it in an authentic manner. I really enjoy vegetarian chili. I like the bold tastes, but appreciate the lower fat and the no meat aspect.



I have a couple of versions of this, depending on what I have in the pantry. This is the basic recipe and then feel free to add whatever you like. I'll include some optional items at the end to spur your creativity.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
3 tsp of Salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1 large Yellow Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 large Red Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 Large Orange Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves of Garlic, whole
4 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Ground Chipotle Peppers, optional
1 Tbsp Hot Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 4 oz can of fire roasted Green Chilies
1 15 oz can of Black Beans, including juice 
1 15 oz can of Pinto Beans, including juice
1 cup of fresh or frozen Corn
2 32oz cans of crushed Tomatoes
1 bottle of Dark Beer

Get out your larg…

Sweet Potato Coconut Pie

I didn’t think you could make a sweet potato pie any better until I came up with this recipe. It is perfect and adds an entirely new dimension to the flavor. The coconut gives a fruity and rich flavor to the potatoes.


Ingredients

1 1/4 pound of Sweet Potatoes cooked until tender, but not mushy 7 Tbsp. of Butter 1 cup of Vanilla Sugar 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg 1 tsp Cinnamon ¼ tsp ground Ginger 1 tsp Vanilla Extract 1/3 cup Evaporated Milk 2 Eggs beaten well ½ cup of toasted unsweetened Coconut. If you use sweetened coconut, then cut back one Tbsp of sugar.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces and boil until done. You will know they are done when you stick the pieces with a knife and they slide off.
After the potatoes are cooked, drain them and transfer them to a large bowl and blend well with the butter using a mixer. 
Toast the coconut in a 350 degree oven until golden brown. Add the remaining ingredients except the eggs and allow the mixture to cool. 
When sufficiently cool, add the eggs and b…

Cookbook du Jour - Home Baking From Around the World

My goal behind cookbook du jour is to share some special books from my culinary library. I want to introduce you today to "Warm Bread and Honey Cake" by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra.



Gaitri is well known for her first baking book, "Windmills in my Oven", which is a very good book on Dutch baking. A resident of the Netherlands, she published "Warm Bread and Honey Cake" as a broader overview of home baking from around the world. 



I was particularly drawn to her book, as it's a basic, non fussy guide to baking from many countries. If you love to bake, it is a wonderful book and well worth a look. I'd like to call out a few really special recipes, that are my personal favorites.

Layered "Drunken" Apple Cake - Kind of a German/Chilean tarte tartin.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies - A lovely Dutch shortbread cookie with a fresh lemon flavor.

Coconut Cake - Such a simple name for such a wonderful cake. It is insanely good when just out of the oven.

Nutmeg Cake wi…

Enchilada Pie - Tex Mex Classic

This is a fun dish to prepare and it's great for kids. It's more Tex Mex, than true Mexican, but it's tasty, hearty, healthy and painlessly vegan.



This can easily be prepared ahead of time and then popped into the oven when you are ready to eat. If it's coming right out of the refrigerator, give it an extra 5 - 10 minutes in the oven.

Ingredients

2 cups of Boca Crumbles or similar.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Salt, omit if Taco Spice has salt.
3/4 cup Corn, frozen is fine.
2 Tbsp Taco Spice, or Chili Powder
1 15 oz can of diced Tomatoes
1 15 oz can of Pinto or Black Beans
Corn Tortillas
Daiya Cheddar shreds  
Black Olives - Optional

Preheat your oven to 375 and then add oil to a sauté pan. Add in onion, garlic, salt and sauté until translucent, then add corn. Sauté for 3-5 min.

Add Boca Crumbles and taco spice. Sauté until heated through. Add in tomatoes and beans and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Add a layer of the …

Simple homemade bread, so easy and delicious.

I have made this bread so many times and it really is easy. I found it in a book called "Bread, from sourdough to rye". It is a very comprehensive book and well worth a look.




I have made it hand formed and also in square loaf pans. I find it works best with the square Pullman loaf pans, and I have also made it in the bread machine.

Just a couple of basic things to remember:

1) Make sure your yeast is fresh.
2) Make sure your water is not to hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 3/4 cups tepid water
0.6 oz of cake compressed yeast or one package of active dry yeast
1 Turkey basting bag - Optional

Mix the flour, sea salt into a bowl. If it is cold, warm the flour in a microwave for 15 seconds.

If you are using compressed yeast, then crumble it into your tepid water, if you are using the packet of active dry yeast, then sprinkle that into the flour mixture, not in the water.

Now either pour the yeast and water mixture into the flour m…

The best Chocolate Chip Cookie in the world?

I've come across so many chocolate chip cookie recipes, and I'm always looking for new ones. This one intrigued me as it uses three different kinds of chocolate, so I had to pass it along. It is modified from a recipe by Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, so you know it's going to be good.

(Makes about 25, 3-inch cookies)
Ingredients

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose Flour 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda 1 teaspoon Sea Salt 1 cup packed dark Brown Sugar
3/4 cup granulated White Sugar 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 large Eggs 5 oz 62% Scharffen Berger Semisweet chocolate, cut into ¼ inch pieces 3 oz 70% Scharffen Berger Bittersweet chocolate, cut into ¼ inch pieces 3 oz 41% Scharffen Berger Extra Rich Milk Chocolate, cut into ¼ inch pieces
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both…

Pasta Aio e Oio - Pasta with Garlic and Oil

This is so simple, and is a standard quick meal in most homes in Italy. It's a late night, "come home and throw it together after drinking" pasta  When I need a quick meal that satisfies and gives me a great garlic fix, this is it. 
Normally I start the water, and by the time it’s boiling, the rest of the dish is already cooking and almost ready to go.

Ingredients

1 lb. of pasta, this is a perfect dish for linguine, spaghetti or even fettuccine. Avoid the tube pasta, as they tend to take on a bit to much oil. 6 Tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3 Tbsp. of freshly chopped Garlic 3 Tbsp. fresh Parsley, chopped Fresh ground Black Pepper Parmesan Reggiano
Start the water and add salt to the water. Use more salt than usual, because salt does not dissolve well in olive oil, so we will not be adding any to the olive oil mixture. 
Add all of the other ingredients into a small sauté pan and gently cook them while the pasta is cooking. Do not overheat, or the garlic will brown and get bitter.…

Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette - Perfect Summer Salad Dressing

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, or more to taste.
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 h…