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Showing posts from September, 2015

Savannah Red Rice - Good Time Low Country Cooking

This is a dish that is a staple throughout the low country region of South Carolina. I have had many different variations but this one is my personal favorite. If you want it to be a bit milder, you can leave out the cayenne pepper.



It's easy to make and can be served as a main or a side dish. 



Ingredients

½ cup Onion ½ cup Green or Red Pepper ¼ cup Celery 4 Tbsp Butter/Non Dairy substitute or 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil 1 package of Field Roast Sausage, Mexican Chipotle works well. 1 tsp. Cayenne
Freshly ground Black Pepper 2 tsp Salt 2 cups of medium grain Rice 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes 1 cup of water
Sauté onion, pepper and celery until translucent. Add spices and sausage and brown until well caramelized.You may leave the sausages whole or cut them into pieces.
Add rice and sauté for 2 minutes until all grains are well coated. Add tomatoes and water and bring back to a boil. Cover and cook on lowest heat for 20-25 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Serve in shallow bowls with hot sauce and…

The Dreamsicle Martini, a vegan cocktail with a kick.

I'm always trying to come up with fun vegan cocktails and while most are not too hard, however, the ones containing cream as an ingredient can be a bit more challenging. This one took a while, but it's done, and it's very good.

As it is refreshing and sweet, it can be deceiving. Be warned, it has a little kick.

Ingredients

3 shots Three Olives Cake Vodka
1/2 shot Cointreau
1 shot So Delicious Creamer
3/4 cup OJ

Add all to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a well chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Vegan Black Bean Tofu - Smoky, spicy goodness.

It's always great to find a dish that translates into vegan even better than the original and here's one. This has all of the things I like about good quality Chinese food, without the MSG and without the meat. 

The key to this dish is the dow see or fermented back beans. They usually come in a bag and are salted. They are easy to find in any Asian market.



They are packed with umami. In Japanese, umami means, "pleasant savory taste". It's often called the 5th taste. 


Ingredients

1 package Extra Firm Tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp Oil
4 dried Chilis, Tien Tsin chilis are perfect.
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 piece of fresh Ginger Root, peeled and minced
1 Red Pepper, cut into 1/2 pieces
3-4 Green Onions, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp Dow See (fermented black beans) rinsed, soaked, drained and lightly mashed. 
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sugar
1Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1Tbsp Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp Water.


Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. …

Pasta with Broccoli, Raisins and Walnuts

This is an easy dish to prepare and has a rich sweet and savory flavor which is just perfect over pasta. It seems to fit well with the cooler nights. 


The key is to not overcook the broccoli. You still want it to have some crunch, as this goes well with the walnuts.

Ingredients

1lb Broccoli Florets 
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, crushed 
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/3 cup Raisins
1 tsp Chili Flakes
2 Tbsp Sherry
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 
4 oz Walnuts, pieces and halves
Parmesan Cheese, or non dairy substitute 
1lb Cavatelli 


Add your oil to a large saucepan. Sauté your garlic until it just starts to brown. Add in your broccoli, add your salt and cook until it just softens slightly. Add your raisins, chili flakes, sherry and balsamic vinegar and cook until the sherry evaporates. 

Boil your water, add salt and then add your pasta. When it is one minute from being done, drain and add to your broccoli and finish in the saucepan. Add your walnuts, toss and serve with cheese. 

Serves 4

Miss Minny's Chocolate Pie

For those of you familiar with the movie "The Help", you will know all about Minny's secret chocolate pie recipe. I found this recipe, minus the "secret" ingredient (read the book) and made it quite a few times and I can tell you, it is very good indeed.



You will think there is something missing, as the recipe is so basic, but it really is a simple recipe and so easy to make. 

Ingredients

1 Pie Crust, not deep dish.
1 1/2 cups Superfine Sugar
3 Tbsp high grade Cocoa Powder.
4 Tbsp unsalted Butter, melted
2 large Eggs, beaten well
3/4 cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Sea Salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes. While the crust is baking, mix together the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt. Combine well until smooth.

When crust is finished, carefully pour in the filling and place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes. If you find the edges browning too much just cover with a …

Coconut Cake - Moist and Delicious

I love this cake and it is always a favorite at any gathering. It is rich, easy to prepare, with lovely coconut flavor and so moist. It is from Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra’s amazing book, “Warm Bread and Honey Cake” and it really is worth a try.



And, I can highly recommend the cookbook as a whole  It is filled with wonderful recipes and really not challenging from a baking point of view.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups AP Flour 2 ¼ tsp Baking Soda ¼ tsp Salt 2 sticks of unsalted Butter, softened 1 cup of superfine Sugar 3 Eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten 1 tsp Vanilla Extract 1 ½ cups grated dry sweetened Coconut with 3 Tbsp water added. If you use moist coconut, you can omit the water. 
1 8 inch square pan
Mix the coconut with the water and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 F and grease the pan and then dust the pan with flour. Hint: Even if you are using a non stick pan, it still needs to be greased and dusted so it will brown properly.
Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt and set aside. Cr…

The world famous Vesper

If you've ever wanted to know how to make the Vesper, like they do at Duke's in London, here's your chance.


Firstly, here is the history as told to me by Allesandro, the great man himself. Ian Fleming used to frequent Duke's bar and wrote at least one of the James Bond novels there and it is said he invented the Vesper. If you read the recipe in Casino Royale(1953), it says:

"Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?"

Duke's recipe below is slightly different as Kina Lillet is no longer available. " Kina Lillet was reformulated in 1986 and rebranded as Lillet Blanc, a “fresher, fruitier, and less bitter” concoction. Cocchi Americano is generally considered to be the nearest contemporary drink to the original recipe Kina Lillet and is often used as a substitute for it in cocktails."

I fond that Lillet Blanc works very well…

How to make a stunning martini.

Firstly, I should say that I prefer a gin martini to vodka, so that is how I will list the recipe, but you can certainly substitute vodka if you prefer.

I think that preparation is critical to having a really good martini. A little prep will make all of the difference to the finished product.

Finally, buy the best gin or vodka you can afford, as the end result is going to be dominated by the spirit, so if you choose a cheap gin or vodka, you will definitely taste it. 

Gin is a very personal thing and while some will like one over another, the key is to have a gin that is smooth and in balance. No one flavor should dominate in an unpleasant way.

Here are a few of my favorites:

No 3, London Dry Gin by Berry Bros and Rudd – Truly one of my favorites and a staple at Duke’s Hotel Bar in London, for making the world famous Vesper.

No Ten by Tanqueray – A close second and a real surprise, as I was not excepting it to be so good.

Plymouth English Gin- This makes a lovely martini and is how I think a…

Potato Jalfrezi - Southern Indian Goodness

This is definitely one of my favorite curries and I like it because it can be made relatively quickly. Many years ago, I made this with chicken, but after swearing off meat, I realized it was just perfect with potato. You could always substitute, sweet potato or eggplant and even butternut squash. However, if you choose any of these, I feel roasting them prior, is a good idea and adds texture.

The key to this dish is to have all of your ingredients arranged, so you aren’t scrambling around the kitchen trying to find things once you have begun cooking. I find this works very well with a wok or karahi, but feel free to use what suits you.

Ingredients
1 lb baby Potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes or in half if they are quite small. 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil 4 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped, crushed or mashed with a mortar and pestle 2 inch pieces of fresh Ginger Root, finely chopped, grated or mashed with a mortar and pestle 1 large Onion, sliced very thinly. A mandoline is very handy for this. 2-4 Tha…

Vegan Lemon and Clove Cookies

Years ago I learned to make these cookies from Alice Waters cookbook. They were and are truly amazing, but I wanted to find a way to make them vegan.


After much trial and error, I found that a modified vegan sugar cookie recipe worked the best, so here you go. I think you will be very happy with the results.

Ingredients

1 lb of Earth Balance sticks
2 cups of white cane sugar
2 Vanilla pods, sliced and scraped
3 cups of AP Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
Zest from two Lemons


Cream together the Earth Balance, sugar, and the vanilla and then sift the dry ingredients together and mix into the creamed mixture. Finally, add in the lemon zest and form into small balls, push down lightly with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack.

Strawberry and Candied Pecan Salad

This is one of my all time favorites. It is perfect for a light salad, but yet it's packed with flavor. I do think the key is the candied pecan, but you can substitute any other candied nut.


Ingredients

6 cups cups of washed Rocket/Arugula
1 cup of sliced Strawberries
1/2 cup of Blueberries
1 cup of Candied Pecans of other suitable nut
1/4 cup of finely chopped Green Onion
1/2 cup of Crumbled Blue Cheese, omit if you are vegan or lactose intolerant 

Wash and thoroughly dry the greens. I find a salad spinner is perfect for this. Portion out the greens into the individual bowls and then add all other ingredients. Finish with a salad dressing of your choice, but a strawberry vinaigrette would be perfect.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

6 Tbsp of Pecan, Walnut Oil or other nut oil
3 Tbsp of Red Wine or Champagne Vinegar, more to taste if desired
2 Tbsp pureed Strawberries 
1-2 tsp Sea Salt

Add all ingredients into a bowl and add one half of the oil and then while whisking, add in the additional oil until em…

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Dates, Pecans and Coconut

This is a really nourishing, tasty and healthy dish. It's easy to pull together and is a perfect compliment to most any main, or as a main when paired with a salad. 


It can easily be pulled towards the savory side with the addition of some chopped green onion or made a bit more Asian Fusion with the addition of chopped cilantro.

Ingredients

4 cups Sweet Potato
1Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
1/2 cup chopped Dates
1/2 cup Sweetened Coconut
1Tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 tsp Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Green Onion or Cilantro, chopped - Optional

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces.

Toss with the coconut oil and put into an oven proof casserole in 375 degree oven.

Bake the sweet potatoes for 40-50 minutes until soft, remove and put into a large bowl, add all other ingredients and toss well and allow to cool slightly to incorporate the flavors and serve.

Tomato Tart - Pure summer goodness

One of the best things about summer is all of the fresh vegetables. One of the most challenging things about summer, is what to do with all of the fresh vegetables!


Faced with an avalanche of lovely cherry tomatoes, I decided to take action and created a simple tomato tart, which was easy to make and was a perfect use of my abundance of tomatoes.

Ingredients

1 Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups of Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup of fresh Basil, chiffonade (rolled and sliced into thin ribbons)
1 pint/2 cups of Heavy Cream
4 Eggs
1 cup of Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 tsp Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Begin by blind baking the crust. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, use a fork to gently prick the crust on the bottom and on the sides.
Cut a piece of parchment paper so it overlaps the crust slightly and lay it onto the unbaked crust, and fill with dried beans. Push them so you have more beans on the sides and less in the middle. Then bake for 15 minutes. 
After baking, remove the crust and lift out the parchm…

Vegan Macadamia Nut Pesto Pasta

This is a very good side dish for a picnic, or even as a main for a quick dinner. The wonderful flavor is very refreshing and light. I think the macadamia nuts are a particularly nice touch.




It’s simple to make, however it is critical is that you rinse the pasta well and make sure it is cooked only to al dente, otherwise it will stick together and turn to mush.

Ingredients
1 lb Bow Tie Pasta 1 10 oz jar of sun dried Tomatoes in olive oil 2 cups of fresh Basil, loosely packed and stems removed 1 cup baby Arugula, loosely packed 6 oz of Macadamia Nuts 1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Juice of one Lemon Zest of one Lemon 2 cloves of fresh Garlic, crushed Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper 1 cup grated Parmesan, or non dairy substitute
Start the water for the pasta and then prepare your tomato pesto. Put sun dried tomatoes and macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until well incorporated  Add in your basil, garlic and arugula and pulse again. Then add your lemon zest and lemon juice and pul…

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

This time of year, there is so much coming out of the garden, it's hard to keep up. So, here is a perfect way to use up those extra cucumbers.



These pickles are really good, easy to make and just get better as they sit in the refrigerator. If you want them to be sweet and spicy, just slice up some jalapeños.

Ingredients

6 cups Cucumber, thinly sliced 
2 cups Onions, thinly sliced 
3 sprigs of fresh Dill
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 cups White Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Sprinkle of Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seed
1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed

Cut up the cucumbers and onions and place into a large bowl. 


Combine remaining ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over low heat and stir, just until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture and allow to cool. 


Transfer to a large glass jar and cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. I think 48 hours is better if you can wait.

Crudo Tomato Sauce - Perfect no cook sauce for pasta.

If you can get these late summer perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes, here is my favorite raw, no cook tomato sauce for pasta. 


The beauty of this recipe is its incredible freshness and how you can quickly prepare it while your water is boiling.

Ingredients

1/2 lb Pasta, Gemelli or Fusilli are perfect
1 cup of Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
2-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1tsp Chili Flakes
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Parmesan Cheese or non dairy cheese, to finish


Start your water for pasta. Once your water is boiling, add 1 Tbsp of sea salt to the water and add in your pasta.

Prepare your "sauce" by slicing the cherry tomatoes in half and place into your serving bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and when your pasta is cooked, drain and pour over your sauce. Let it sit for 30 seconds, then toss with cheese and serve.