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Showing posts from 2017

Kimchi Tofu Stew (Sundubu Jigae)

I've always been big fan of Korean food, but had never made any dishes at home. I always went out to a local restaurant. I assumed it was very complicated, but in fact, the basics are quite simple. 

The key, as with all cooking, is to have excellent and authentic ingredients. Most areas will have a Korean market and that will be your one stop shop for all of your ingredients. Additionally, the produce is usually excellent, very fresh and a faction of the price of a large grocery store.

This recipe came from my follow foodie Kenneth, and it is a dish called Sundubu Jigae. I also picked up a great cookbook from Maangchi. It is well written and very easy to follow. I highly recommend it. Its called Real Korean Cooking and she also has a wonderful blog. 



Ingredients 
1 Tbsp Hot Korean Pepper Flakes, or more to taste. 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Seed Oil 1 1/2 cup Fish Stock, low sodium 1/2 Onion chopped 2 Garlic clove chopped 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil  1 Green Onion/spring onion chopped 1 cup well fermented…

Nonna' Stuffed Shells with Marinara

This is the kind of comfort food that I really enjoy cooking. It is the kind of food your Nonna would make on Sunday, and it is both comforting and very tasty.


It takes a little prep time, but I find the end result really satisfying. It's still amazing to me how such simple ingredients can transform into something so incredibly good.  And, they are wonderful the next day, if they last that long.



Ingredients

1 12 oz box of Jumbo Pasta Shells
2 Egg Yolks
1 Egg
1 Package of Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated.
2 cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated.
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped.
Freshly grated Nutmeg, just a bit, or a pinch.
1/8 tsp Oregano
3-4 cups Marinara, good quality store bought is fine, but feel free to make your own if you're inspired.

Begin by boiling water in a large pot, once the water is boiling, salt it generously and add the shells. Give it a soft stir, but don't disturb the shells too much. Timing is critical here, because if you over cook the shells, you will have a mushy…

Fresh Tomato Tart

This is very easy to prepare and a great way to use up tomatoes. If you can't find wonderful summer tomatoes, it really isn't worth the effort. The key to this is the freshness of the ingredients. 

There is one step that is very important, and it's how you prepare the tomatoes. You need to follow this, or you will end up with a slimy mess. 
To prepare your tomatoes, slice them 1/4 inch thick and lay onto paper towels, do one layer of tomatoes then add more paper towels and another layer of tomatoes, etc. They can rest there while you prepare everything else. This just absorbs some of the juice, so you get full flavor, without soft puff pastry.


This can easily be made vegan by using Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, which is surprisingly vegan, and subbing a non dairy Parmesan, such as Go Veggie. 
Ingredients 
1 package of Puff Pastry, thawed. This takes about 2 hours in the refrigerator.  3 medium sized Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced and prepared as described above. 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, with …

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

This is a very popular dish in the south of Italy. There are many variations, and many contain olives and capers. I have made it following these recipes and they are very good, but I was wanting something with a sweeter undertone and packed with umami. 

So, I chose to follow a traditional recipe and then use raisins for sweetness and finished with Asian fish sauce.
The ancient Romans frequently used a condiment called garum. It was basically a fermented fish sauce, made from many different types of fish. There were many different recipes for garum and some were very expensive. They liked to put it on a variety of dishes. I find Asian fish sauce to be a good substitute for garum, based upon the descriptions I've read. 
If you want a more authentic "garum", there is an Italian company called Nettuno that makes a product called Colatura di Alici, and it is a lighter version made from anchovies and very good. You can order it from Gustiamo from this link https://www.gustiamo.co…

Homemade Cajun Spice Seasoning

With so many spice mixes out there, it might seem redundant to make your own, but it is a lot cheaper and you will know exactly what's in it.  Additionally, you can control the salt content.

You will need a basic coffee grinder, but it's minimal investment to buy two. One for coffee beans and one for spices. Not kidding, I've had my Krups grinders for 20 years.
Feel free to adjust ingredients and quantity to suit your taste. This will keep well for many months in the pantry. 
1 1/2 tsp Salt 2 tsp Smoked Paprika  1 tsp Oregano  1 tsp Thyme 1 Bay Leaf 1 tsp Black Peppercorns  1 tsp Garlic Powder 1 tsp Onion Powder 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper  1 whole Clove, optional
Add all ingredients into a coffee/spice grinder. Grind until a fine powder. Use as desired. Makes a wonderful marinade with olive oil for broiling most anything. 

Homemade Mac Cheese - Yes, it is this easy and really good.

Yes, you can make your own mac and cheese and it's vastly better than store bought. Be creative with your choices of cheese. 
I've used smoked Gouda, Gruyere and even Blue Cheese. Their are no solid rules here.  Just make sure it's good cheese, and make sure it's shredded or cubed. For shredding, I find the food processor with the shredding disk is very helpful. 

It is easy to make this vegan, so if you want a vegan mac and cheese, go for it. Just sub out the butter with Earth Balance, the milk with soy milk and cheese with non dairy options. Nutritional yeast is a helper here to give that cheesy flavor. 
I've made it both ways, and both are very good. 
Ingredients
3 Tbsp Butter or Earth Balance 3 Tbsp Flour 2 cups Milk or Soy Milk, warmed. 2 cups Shredded Cheese or Daiya Cheddar. 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast, if making vegan.  1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese or Go Veggie Parmesan, for topping Salt and Pepper 1 lb Pasta, Shells, Farfalle or Fusilli are perfect. 
Preheat your oven to …

Fast and Easy Marinara

So many people go out for Italian food that is average at best. You can make your own at home and it's vastly better. Here's a recipe for a basic marinara that is fast and amazing. 




Ingredients 1 28 oz can Muir Glen Whole Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 clove Garlic, peeled and crushed with side of your knife
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 Onion, peeled and dropped in whole.
1 sprig fresh Basil
Put tomatoes in a saucepan, crush them with your hands. Add all other ingredients and gently simmer for one hour. Fish out the onion, garlic and basil and serve sauce over a high quality pasta like De Cecco Penne, Rigatoni or Spaghetti and sprinkle with Parmesano Reggiano. 

Hint: If you want to really make it amazing, finish it off in the pan with a little of the reserved pasta water. Just undercook the pasta by about two minutes. Use a Pyrex measuring cup to dip out about 3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water. set aside. Drain the pasta and add it back to the original pan and a…

Eggplant Parmesan - Big Taste, Fewer Calories

This is easy to pull together and has a rich bold flavor. As you are not frying the eggplant, but rather baking it, the overall result is much lighter than a traditional eggplant Parmesan, and saves a lot of calories.

I am a big fan of home made marinara. However, I find that if something is baked with other ingredients for a long time, the difference between a quality store-bought marinara and homemade is minimal.




As you will note in the ingredient listing, it is very easy to make this a totally vegan recipe. All you need to, is sub out the dairy ingredients for non-dairy ingredients.
Ingredients 
1- 9x14 Pyrex baking dish 1 large Eggplant, firm with no soft spots.  Olive Oil  Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper 2 large jars Marinara, Rao's is very good 6 Tbsp Pesto 2 tsp Chili Flakes 2-3 cups Mozzarella or Daiya Mozzarella  1 package/tub Ricotta or Tofutti Cream Cheese Freshly grated Parmesan or Go Veggie Parmesan No bake Lasagna sheets
Note: You should not need any additional salt, as yo…

Seafood Paella

I can't imagine many dishes that court more controversy amongst purists than Paella. It is the soul of Spain and as such, opinions regarding its preparation are strong. Even its regional origins are arguable, but I believe that the arguments for it originating in Valencia ring true to me.  As I don't eat meat, but occasionally seafood, I wanted to create a seafood version that would be as authentic as possible without the meat and the open fire.

If you're not familiar with paella, it is traditionally cooked in a very large flat open pan and over an open fire. It is not soupy or soft, but rather the rice is crunchy around the edges and perfectly separated. The meat is mostly chicken, rabbit, chorizo and occasionally snails. It's a true culinary treasure. 





As I do not have a dedicated paella dish and open fires are not really a viable option, I found a nifty hack that gives very good results. 

If you are a meat eater, then there are ample recipes online for a totally traditi…

Vegan Bolognese

This took some time and experimentation get right. Trying to get the balance was challenging as the sauce kept wanting to veer to the sweet side. 
However, it was worth the effort, and this is a very good vegan sauce. The porcini adds an umami note that works well and the balsamic vinegar, which balances the sweetness. 

Ingredients 
4 Tbsp Olive Oil 1/2 cup Onions, chopped 1/4 cup Carrots, chopped 1/4 cup Celery, chopped  1 clove Garlic, crushed 1/2 cup Porcini Mushrooms, reconstituted and chopped. Save the water.  1 package Boca Crumbles or similar.  Salt  Pepper  3/4 cup Red Wine 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 3/4 cup Soy Milk 1 32 oz can of Tomatoes, diced or whole. 
Begin with a Le Cruset or similar as this is going to simmer for a long time. 
Heat the olive oil and then add the finely chopped onion, celery and carrots. Sauté without browning and then add the garlic clove. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Add in the chopped porcini and Boca crumbles and allow to sauté. Add the water from the porcini and red…

Masala Gravy - Indian Base Sauce

One of the challenges with Indian cuisine is the prep. However, with some planning, you can have amazing homemade Indian food, without too much work.



You can easily take this recipe and make it times four, to have masala paste or gravy left over. It stores well in the fridge or you can freeze it as well.

Note: A dedicated coffee grinder for spices is essential. I've had a Krups for 20 years.

Ingredients


Group 1 2 Tbsp. Coriander Seeds 2 Tbsp. Cumin Seeds 1 Tbsp. Black Peppercorns 1 tsp Cloves 2 Bay Leaves
1 Onion, chopped 4 inch piece of Ginger, peeled 3 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Salt
4 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil 1 Tbsp. Black Mustard seeds 6 fresh Curry Leaves
Group 2 1 Tbsp. Turmeric, ground 2 tsp Fenugreek, ground 1 tsp Cardamom, ground 1 tsp Cinnamon, ground 2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, ground

1 14.5 oz can of crushed or chopped Tomatoes
Roast all whole spices from first group in 350F oven until just starting to omit fragrance. About 4-5 minutes max. Remove and set aside to cool.



In a small food processor or mortar and p…

Murg Dhaniya - Chicken with Yogurt

I ate this on one of my trips to India and the flavor is amazing and really robust. If you like fresh cilantro and spicy food, this dish is for you. Its heavy use of cilantro often gives it the name, Green Chicken and it is common in the Bengal region.

It has the mixture of chicken and yogurt, which allows the meat to tenderize and this is common to northern Indian regional cooking and is a holdover from the Mogul emperors.
Ingredients 
1 ½ lb of boneless and skinless Chicken, white, dark or both 1 cup of Yogurt 1 ½ tsp Salt ½ cup of Ghee(clarified butter) or canola oil 5 whole green Cardamom 10 whole Cloves 1 inch piece of stick Cinnamon 1 ½ cup of sliced Onions 4 tsp. chopped Garlic 4 tsp. chopped fresh Ginger 6 sliced green Chilies 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper 1 cup of chopped Tomatoes 1 ½ cup of chopped fresh Coriander 4 tsp. Ginger root julienne
Marinate the chicken in the yogurt and salt for at least one hour. Heat the oil or ghee in an oven proof pot and add clove, cardamom, onions and sauté until ligh…