Restaurant-style sesame noodles

April 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm (Alma's faves, Chinese, Derek's faves, Pasta, Sauce/dressing, Tofu, Uncategorized, Website / blog) ()

I already have two sesame noodle recipes on my blog. The first recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook, and uses tahini. The second recipe is from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Chinese cookbook, and uses peanut butter. But lately we haven’t been making either of these recipes. Instead we’ve been making a version of the takeout-style sesame noodles recipe from Sam Sifton on the New York Times website. It uses both tahini and peanut butter. It’s clearly the winner. We make a whole meal out of it by adding pan-fried tofu, steamed broccoli, and various raw veggies. The last few times we’ve made this for dinner, Alma has scarfed it up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brown rice supper with tofu, peanut sauce, and stir-fried carrots

December 31, 2015 at 12:07 pm (B_minus, Deborah Madison, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Grains, Root vegetables, Sauce/dressing, Spring recipes, Tofu, Uncategorized, Winter recipes)

In the 70s and 80s many vegetarian restaurants offered some kind of brown rice bowl, which consisted of some combination of borwn rice, tofu, beans, veggies, and a sauce. In NYC in Angelica Kitchen they called it the Dragon Bowl. It’s simple, hearty, co-op food—nothing fancy, but tasty and filling. So when I asked Derek to pick a recipe for dinner last night, he picked this “brown rice supper” menu from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »

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Double Broccoli Quinoa Recipe

November 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm (101 cookbooks, B_, Cruciferous rich, Grains, Sauce/dressing, Uncategorized)

We are big broccoli fans here. Even Alma loves broccoli. And pesto? Yes. So a double broccoli quinoa recipe with broccoli and broccoli pesto from 101cookbooks  — sounded great.  But it ended up being a surprising amount of work, and had an awfully lot of fat for something that didn’t taste particularly decadent. We didn’t love it. And there were a few things about the recipe that we found odd. Read the rest of this entry »

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Raw zucchini, carrot, kohlrabi, and arugula salad with a cashew, tomato, basil dressing

December 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Other, Salads, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes) ()

Diana Dammann (the founder and organizer of our local Saarbruecken vegetarian society) brought this dish to a barbecue this summer, and I really liked it. It’s supposed to be a raw “spaghetti and tomato sauce”, but to me it just seemed like a very tasty salad. The zucchini, carrot, and kohlrabi all add a different type of crunch, and the dressing is creamy and satisfying without feeling too heavy. Diana came over yesterday and showed me how to make it. The recipe is originally from the book “Vegan lecker lecker!” by Marc Pierschel, and according to Diana, it was the first vegan cookbook published in Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade sunbutter

November 9, 2013 at 12:27 am (A minus, Derek's faves, Sauce/dressing, Website / blog)

I’ve already waxed euphoric about the wonders of sunflower seed butter, so you know how much I enjoy it. Sadly, however, it seems to be the one nut/seed butter I can’t find here in Germany. I’ve found peanut butter, hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter (roasted and raw), and even pumpkin seed butter. But no sun butter. I have no idea why. So I tried making my own sunbutter a few months ago. I just added the sunflower seeds to the food processor and tried grinding them up. They turned into a dry, sandy, powdery substance, but not into a nut butter. I thought maybe I needed to add a little oil but that didn’t work at all. It just turned into a sticky, pasty, oily kind of sand. I tried adding some water. Big mistake. I ended up with pale, pasty, white goop. Blech. I decided to try again, but this time to actually read some instructions online first. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buckwheat vegetable pancakes with spicy yogurt sauce

February 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Grains, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Spring recipes, Starches, Winter recipes)

Derek and I picked this recipe from the winter section of Fresh Food Fast for dinner last night.  The pancakes are supposed to be chock full of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, scallions, and dill.  Instead of adding the shredded green cabbage, however,  I used some of my homemade sauerkraut. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitan and vegetables with mole sauce

November 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm (Beans, B_minus, Fall recipes, Mexican & S. American, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Seitan, Winter recipes)

Years ago I ordered the OLÉ MAN SEITAN at Angelica Kitchen in New York City, and loved it.  It was a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with seitan and roasted vegetables and topped with mole sauce.  It was huge, but so tasty I finished the whole thing.  Afterwards, however, I regretted it, as I went into one of the worst salt comas of my life.  Still, I have fond memories of that mole sauce.  The recipe for the dish is in the Angelica Kitchen cookbook, and I tried making it once many years ago, without success.  I no longer remember the details, but I remember it didn’t taste nearly as good as at the restaurant.  But I had some homemade seitan to use up, and decided to give it another shot last night. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Anjelica Home Kitchen cookbook

July 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm (Grains, Other, Salads, Sauce/dressing, Tempeh, unrated)

I really liked the tagine recipe that I made from the Anjelica Home Kitchen cookbook last week, so I decided to try a few other recipes.  Brief notes are below.

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Whole grain pasta with salsa cruda

August 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm (B_minus, Italian, Pasta, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Starches, Summer recipes)

It’s finally gotten hot in Saarbruecken, so I decided to make this uncooked pasta sauce from the Summer section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  The sauce is made of raw, chopped tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, basil, chives, balsamic vinegar, and minced garlic.   Read the rest of this entry »

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No-onion curry sauce with cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan

July 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm (Beans, B_, Cruciferous rich, Indian, Other, Sauce/dressing, Seitan)

This is another recipe that I made last year when I was visiting my friend Sarah in Israel.  The original recipe is from the cookbook The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra. Although I have nothing against onions, I like the idea that I can make a delicious, authentic curry sauce even if I’m all out of onions. Batra says that no-onion curry sauce needs extra tomatoes, yogurt, and spices.  Note that the sauce as written is quite thin.  Batra says it makes a lovely base for a vegetable soup, or you can add 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes to make it thicker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Floating cloud miso dressing

May 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm (B_, Derek's faves, Miso, Other, Sauce/dressing)

After using miso in so many of Ron Pickarski’s recipes, I decided to pull out this old dressing recipe that I used to make in my co-op days.  It’s a very rich and salty dressing, with lots of umami flavor.  I had no idea where the recipe originated, so I did a google search and found a few different recipes entitled “Floating Cloud Miso”, but none of them quite lined up with this one. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hummus as salad dressing

February 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm (Mom’s recipes, Salads, Sauce/dressing, unrated)

I was in Austin visiting my family a few weeks ago, and I ate really well all week.  One of the highlights was that my mom made us delicious salads almost every day.  One reason the salad was so delicious is that almost everything in the salad came from my mom’s organic vegetable garden.  (We were there before it snowed and all the plants froze.)  In addition to her homegrown veggies, sometimes my mom would add pieces of hearts of palm, which add a mild pickled taste and silky texture.  For a dressing, my mother served all her salads with a thin version of her homemade hummus.  She adds extra bean cooking liquid to make the hummus thinner than she normally would, and uses it as a salad dressing.  It’s lemony and garlicky, thick and rich tasting, and high in protein.  A brilliant idea!  I bet other bean spreads would make great salad dressings too.

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Thai curry paste, four ways

December 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm (Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Other, Sauce/dressing, unrated)

I was making roasted veggies for dinner tonight, and Derek asked me to make some Thai curry paste to go along with them.  Amazingly, I actually happened to have all the ingredients on hand.  I used to make Thai curry paste all the time back in grad school, but I haven’t made it much (if at all) since coming to Germany.   But now that it’s snowy and cold in Saarbruecken, the intense heat of a curry paste sounded very appealing.

The recipe I made tonight is a green curry from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai.  It’s one of five different curry recipes in her book.  All of them are fiery and very fresh tasting–a great accompaniment to the sweetness in  roasted carrots and parsnips.  Traditional Thai curry paste includes shrimp paste, but McDermott’s vegetarian version is not missing a thing: it’s fresh, complex, and intensely spicy.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Artisanal balsamic vinegar… not

July 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Dessert, Ice cream & toppings, Italian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, unrated)

We had friends over for dinner the other night, and Derek wanted to make a summery dessert.  He decided on panna cotta. He considered making green tea or earl grey panna cotta, but in the end he decided that he shouldn’t mess around on his first attempt, and made plain vanilla panna cotta.  He thought it sounded a bit boring though, and so he decided to top the panna cotta with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  I only had cheap supermarket balsamic vinegar though, and so we decided to reduce it to make it sweeter, less harsh, and more syrupy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Charoset 2010

April 7, 2010 at 6:01 am (breakfast, Jewish, Sauce/dressing, unrated)

For Passover this year we made two different versions of haroset, the fruit and nut mixture that’s supposed to represent mortar.  One was a pretty traditional Ashkenazi charoset with apples and walnuts, and the other was a slightly more modern Ashenazi take with apples and dried cranberries and pistachios.  The recipe was from a friend of my mom’s.  I enjoyed both versions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple winter salsa

December 16, 2009 at 10:35 am (Mexican & S. American, Mom’s recipes, Sauce/dressing, unrated, Winter recipes)

Last night I made the recipe for pico de gallo from my mom’s blog, to accompany some black bean and sweet potato burritos.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of canned small-diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice, from one lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro, from 1 bunch
  • 1-2 jalapenos, with seeds

Instructions:

  1. Chop cilantro including stems to make about 1 cup.
  2. Chop onion, jalapeno and garlic, finely.
  3. Combine garlic, onion, cilantro, jalapeno and tomatoes.
  4. Add salt and lime juice.
  5. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to combine flavors.

My notes:

I used a large can of tomatoes with the juice, but only got about 3.5 cups total.  After letting the salsa sit for 30 minutes it tasted a bit bland.  I had added 1/4 tsp. salt but I added a little bit more, some chipotle powder, and some fresh ground cumin.  Those additions helped.  It wasn’t the greatest salsa ever, but it was perfectly fine.  I served it with the burritos and although I thought the sweet potato burritos actually go better with a green salsa verde, my guests seemed to like this red one–almost the entire bowl of salsa was eaten.  I only had about 1/2 cup left after the six of us were done with dinner.

The homesick Texan’s pico de gallo recipe is similar

4 cups ripe red tomatoes diced (about 8 medium tomatoes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 of a small white onion)
2 tablespoon minced garlic (but she says from 2 cloves–she must have some massive cloves of garlic!)
4 Tbs. lime juice limes (but she says from 4 limes? are her limes very tiny?)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 jalapenos (stems and seeds removed) diced
1 tablespoon olive oil (she says it’s for flavor and texture, but can be omitted)
Salt to taste

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Basic cucumber raita

January 5, 2009 at 6:10 am (Epicurious, Indian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, unrated)

On my sister’s final night in Saarbruecken I made dosas and an Indian dish with okra and onions.  Hanaleah claimed not to like dosas (too spicy) or okra, but she really liked both my dishes.  To go along with the dosas, Hanaleah decided to make raita.  She started out with this Epicurious recipe for traditional cucumber raita, substituted red onions for the scallions, and added lemon juice and salt.  Her raita was excellent, and although the recipe is quite simple, I wanted to remember it, so decided to post it here.

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped red onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1? Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4? tsp. salt

Here’s a raita recipe from the cookbook “Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking” by Julie Sahni:

  • 1.5 cups plain yogurt, whisked til smooth
  • 1 cup peeled, grated cucumber
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground roasted cumin for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika for garnish
  • cilantro or mint for garnish

She says it can be made 5-6 hours in advance, and makes 4 servings.

I went over to my friend Anusha’s for dinner and she made a really tasty raita. It didn’t have cucumber in it, but it had lots of onions. She gave me her recipe:

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 pinch black salt
  • 1-3 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 cups yogurt [depends on how thick you want it to be]
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
It seems odd that an Indian recipe calls for dried parsley.  I wonder if Anusha meant coriander?  I tried making this using three quite small onions, and it was very tasty but much too salty for me.  I had to add a lot more yogurt and more lemon juice.  But I really love the raw onions in the raita.  I’ll definitely make it again.

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Annie’s tahini goddess dressing, a copycat recipe

December 17, 2008 at 5:20 am (A, Derek's faves, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

Both Derek and I love Annie’s goddess dressing.  It’s a tahini-based dressing that’s savory and rich, and very satisfying.  Annie’s is not sold in Germany, so I’ve decided to try to figure out how to make something similar myself.   I searched around on the web for a while, and came across this taste test from the San Francisco Chronicle that shows that Annie’s Goddess dressing is indeed better than knockoffs by other companies.  The result of the taste test didn’t surprise me, but it did worry me a bit—if big food companies can’t replicate Annie’s dressing, why do I think I have a shot?

I looked around some more on the web, trying to find a copycat recipe.  Although I found tons of posts where people were asking for the recipe, I could find only one post on recipezaar where someone actually attempted to replicate the original. Although the recipe is rated well, it doesn’t seem to follow the constraints given by the Annie’s ingredient list; I decided not to follow this recipe, but rather to try to figure it out on my own.  I looked at the order of ingredients in the ingredient list (ordered by weight) and the nutritional information to try to figure out how much of each ingredient to use.  My first few tries were pretty awful, but after ten attempts, I think I finally nailed it!  Now we can have Annie’s goddess dressing in Saarbruecken whenever we like.  Or maybe I should call it Fannie’s (Fake-Annie’s).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Barbecue Sauce

October 23, 2008 at 9:58 am (frozen tofu, Isa C. Moskowitz, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Tofu, unrated)

Sarah Palin grew up in Alaska, which is close to Russia, and thus she claims foreign policy experience. I grew up in Texas, the great state of barbecue, so therefore I’m an expert in the art of barbecuing.  Well…, let’s just say that I know as much about barbecue as Sarah Palin knows about foreign policy.

I’ve only ever tried two barbecue sauce recipes: my mom’s, and more recently the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance.  The recipe on the left is my mom’s recipe for barbecue sauce, and is meant to be added to frozen tofu which has been marinated in peanut butter, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil. Barbecue sauce #2 is based on the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance (I’ve made a few changes), and is meant to be added to tofu baked with oil and soy sauce.  The second recipe calls for more esoteric and expensive ingredients: pomegranate molasses, shallots, maple syrup, liquid smoke, star anise, etc.  On the other hand, I haven’t been able to find American style tomato sauce, brown sugar, salad mustard, or blackstrap molasses here in Germany.  After making the VwV recipe, I was surprised that it tasted quite similar to my mom’s recipe.  I lined the recipes up below to compare them and there are quite a few differences. The most noticeable difference to me was the absence of any acid in the VwV recipe.  I added lemon juice both times I made it, and it helped balance the flavors.  I’m curious, however, to try a side by side taste test and see which one comes out ahead.  My taste test will have to wait until I get my hands on some yellow mustard and molasses.  Ultimately, I’d like to merge the two recipes, and create the perfect, German-shopping-friendly recipe for a vegetarian barbecue sauce.   If anyone has any suggestions for other barbecue recipes I should try in my taste comparison, please post a comment.

2 Tbs. oil 1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped 1 cup shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups tomato sauce 6 ounces of tomato paste
2 cups water 2 cups water or vegetable broth
3/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbs. blackstrap molasses 3 Tbs. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. salt 2 Tbs. soy sauce (maybe more?)
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder 1/8 tsp. cayenne
no smoke flavor in recipe 1/8 tsp. chipotle powder or liquid smoke
1 tsp. allspice a pinch of ground cloves
2 arms of star anise
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ginger
no pepper in recipe, but added to tofu several grinds of black pepper
3 Tbs. dried parsley no herbs in recipe
1/3 cup lemon juice no acid in recipe
1/2 cup salad mustard no acid or mustard in recipe
no peanut butter in recipe, but added to tofu 2 Tbs. peanut butter

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Late Summer Pasta Salad with Curried Tahini Yogurt Sauce

September 11, 2008 at 7:17 am (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Pasta, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

I make this pasta salad (adapted from a recipe in Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) a couple of times every summer.   It’s not the most exciting recipe in the world, but it’s reasonably tasty and full of veggies—broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and herbs. The sauce is made from yogurt and tahini, and is creamy without being greasy or overly rich. Although it’s flavored with curry spices, it tastes more co-op than Indian.  With its bright yellow slightly goopy sauce, the dish won’t win any beauty contests.  Nonetheless, it makes a healthy one-dish dinner, and the leftovers make a great lunch to bring to work. Below is my version of Berley’s recipe, with my own game plan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thai Roasted Chili Paste

August 4, 2008 at 5:32 am (A minus, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Other, Sauce/dressing)

A few years ago I made the Roasted Chili Paste (Nahm prik pao) from Nancie McDermott’s cookbook Real Vegetarian Thai.  We used it in a recipe with butternut squash and spinach, and everyone enjoyed it.  For some reason, however, I never made it again, until this summer.  I gave my mom my big Kitchenaid spice grinder with the washable bowl,  since it won’t work in Germany, but she didn’t know what to do with it, since she already had a normal coffee grinder.  I suggested she make Thai roasted chili paste in it, and she wanted me to show her how, so we cracked open her pristine copy of Real Vegetarian Thai, and made half a batch of Roasted Chili Paste.  After tasting it and discovering how utterly delicious it is, we felt foolish for only making half a batch!

Here is my recipe for 1.5 batches of thai chili paste:

  • 3/4 cup loosely packed small dried red chilies such as chilies de arbol or chiles japones (about 48), stemmed, halved crosswise (about 3/4 ounce)
  • almost a cup of unpeeled shallots, cut lengthwise into chunks, about 4.5 ounces
  • generous 1/3 cup unpeeled garlic cloves (12 to 15 large cloves), about 2 3/4 ounces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (my mom uses 3/8 cup, and the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tamarind liquid
  • 1.5 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  1. Measure out the chilies, shallots, and garlic, and cut the shallots as specified.
  2. In a wok or heavy skillet, dry-fry the chilies over medium-low heat until they darken and become fragrant and brittle, 3 to 5 minutes.  Shake the pan and stir frequently as they roast.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and dry-fry the shallots and garlic, turning them occasionally, until they are softened, wilted, and blistered, about 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat and transfer to the plate to cool.
  4. Stem the chilies and shake out and discard most (but not all) of the seeds. Add to a mini processor or spice grinder, and pulse twice.  Trim the shallots and garlic, discarding the peel and root ends.  Combine the garlic, shallots, and chilies in a mini processor, blender, or spice grinder, and pulse to a coarse paste, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil and grind to a fairly smooth paste.
  5. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup oil into the wok or skillet.  Place over medium heat until a bit of the paste added to the pan sizzles at once, about 1 minute.  Add the ground chili paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste gradually darkens and releases a rich fragrance, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  6. When the paste is cool, add the sugar, tamarind, soy sauce, and salt and mix well.  The paste will be quite oily, and must be stirred before each use.  Transfer to a jar, cap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.  Use at room temperature in recipes or as a condiment.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (if using 1/2 cup oil), or maybe just a bit less.

Notes:

I love this versatile sauce, as did my mom, and Derek.  It’s spicy, sweet, salty, and just a tad sour from the tamarind. Make a big batch and keep it in the fridge, and you’ll be glad.  It’s quite a bit of work, but it lasts in the fridge for a month.  With this sauce it’s super easy to whip up a quick Thai weeknight dinner, that tastes like something you’d get at a Thai restaurant.  My mom and I used it in a dish with zucchini and tofu, which we scarfed down.  Derek and I made a green bean, tofu, and red pepper version which was almost as delicious.  The original recipe I tried was a vitamin packed butternut squash and spinach hot pot. I’ll post the recipes separately.

If you have a thai mortar and pestle you can make the paste the traditional way, adding oil little by little to grind the sauce to a fine paste.

You can buy Nahm prik pao in an Asian grocery store, but it will ususally contain fish sauce and dried shrimp.

Open a window and turn on the stove fan if you can while frying and seeding the chilies–otherwise your whole house will be spicy and everyone will be coughing all day.

This version gives a rich, tangy chili-tamarind paste softened by the brown sugar. For a more pure, fiery version skip step 6.

How to make tamarind “liquid”: To get the required tamarind paste, soak 1/2 cup of tamarind pulp/seeds (the kind that comes in a hard brick) in 1 cup warm water for 30 minutes.  Use a wooden spoon to break it up a bit, then use a wooden spoon to push the pulp through a fine mesh sieve, getting out as much tamarind paste as possible.   You’ll have extra tamarind paste leftover–store it in the freezer.  It won’t freeze, but will stay soft and ready to use at a moment’s notice in any Thai or Indian dish, or as a substitute for lemon juice. Pour boiling water over the remaining seeds and stringy paste, and let sit for 30 minutes.  Strain it and use it for a nice cooling Thai beverage–tamarind juice/tea.  Add a bit of honey or maple syrup if it’s too sour for you.

The first time I made this with my mom I was religious about getting out all the seeds, and the final paste was delicious, but totally without heat.  The next time I was less conscientious, and the paste was appropriately fiery.  Derek ate a few Tablespoons of it and then sat around in a numb daze after dinner.

The original recipe yields a very oily sauce, and then all the recipes that call for it have you cook the vegetables in more oil, which results in very tasty but overly greasy dishes.  So I reduced the oil a bit the second time I made it, and although the final dishes were still oily, they weren’t unpleasantly greasy.

Try to choose peppers that aren’t too tiny, as the tiny ones are really hard to seed.

I was initially hesitant because the recipe seems to call for a lot of salt, but you only use a few Tbs. of this sauce in a whole dish, so it doesn’t end up being too salty.  Really.

Rating: A- (soon to become an A?)

Derek Rating: A

Update May 2010:  I accidentally seeded my chilies before dry frying them.  I wonder what effect that will have?  I also used olive oil as the oil.  I followed the original recipe in the cookbook except I was a tad short on shallots and I used 5.5 Tbs. oil rather than 8.  I wanted to use less but it took 4 Tbs. before the mini processor would blend the mixture.  I probably could have left out adding the extra oil in the pan, but I wasn’t sure so I added 1.5 Tbs. just to be on the safe side.

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The joys of peruvian pepper sauce

March 23, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Dark leafy greens, Mexican & S. American, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, restaurant inspired, Sauce/dressing, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

ajiamarillo.gifI can’t recall if I’ve blogged about aji amarillo sauce before, but it’s worth a second mention in any case. This Peruvian sauce is simply a puree made from yellow aji peppers. It’s bright yellow, somewhat spicy, a little salty, and very flavorful. Actually, I’d describe it more as “piquant” than seriously spicy. The first time I had it was at La Feria in Pittsburgh. Although I enjoyed adding it to their various grain and cheese casseroles, and using it in place of butter as a spread for french bread, I was never really sure what to do with it at home. Then a few months ago Derek and I went to Madre, a tiny nouveau latin restaurant on the east side of Montreal. We weren’t all that excited about the experience (see our review), but there was one memorable dish with peruvian pepper sauce that Derek loved, and has been on my mind ever since: a duck “ceviche” with seared duck marinated in yellow pepper sauce, with onions, parsnip puree, and roasted corn kernels.

I finally found the yellow pepper sauce at the South American store on St. Laurent (and then later at the Mexican store behind Jean Talon market). The Mexican store also had the roasted salted corn kernels. Visiting Derek in Germany this week, I bought adorable French fingerling potatoes, fresh garlic, and a medium bag of spinach. I sliced five of the fingerling potatoes, and sauteed them in olive oil with a half of head of fresh garlic and a small red onion sliced into rings. Once the potatoes were almost soft I added about a 1/2 cup of yellow pepper sauce, and the spinach (leaves torn). After the spinach was wilted I sprinkled on some fresh thyme and a dusting of roasted corn kernels. I had meant to add mushrooms and white wine as well, in mimicry of the white wine and garlic saute from Kaya but forgot both. Even so, everyone really enjoyed the dish, even me! I couldn’t taste the thyme, and next time might try a more south american herb like cilantro. Also, I’d like to try using parsnips instead of potatoes. Either way, I’ll definitely be trying this type of recipe again, as well as looking for more opportunities to use this delicious yellow pepper sauce, even if I have to smuggle it into Germany from Montreal or the States.

Other ways I’ve eaten this sauce lately:

  • plain, as a dipping sauce for roasted brussels sprouts
  • mixed with yogurt and lemon juice as a dipping sauce for chickpea patties
  • as a flavorful addition to a sandwich, in place of mustard

If you have any other suggestions, please post a comment!

I’ve seen a large number of different brands of this pepper sauce: Goya, Dona Isabel, La Nuestra, various local Canadian brands.  If you can’t find it in the ethnic food section of a large grocery store, try to hunt down a South American store, or better yet a Peruvian or Bolivian store.  If you still can’t find the jarred aji amarillo pepper puree, here are instructions on how to make it yourself.

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Kela Raita

January 12, 2008 at 7:40 pm (B plus, Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

Kela means banana (in some Indian language), and although I’ve never heard of it before or had it at a restaurant, apparently banana raita is quite common; at least, I found lots of similar recipe when searching for it on google. This recipe is from the cookbook Ajanta, by Lachu Moorjani. A few friends of mine love the author’s restaurant Ajanta in Northern California, and bought me and Derek his cookbook as a present, along with a lovely box of Indian spices. When I first unwrapped the spice box I was a little concerned that I already had all the spices, but it turns out it contains lots of ones I don’t have: black cumin seeds, black rock salt, dried fenugreek leaves, nigella seeds, dried pomegranate seeds, white poppy seeds… And all the spices are very fresh. What a lovely gift! I looked through the cookbook and picked a few recipes to try first, and this recipe for banana raita instantly caught my eye. It sounded unusual, but easy to make and very tasty.

  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 2 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chilies, cut into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp. ground toasted cumin

Heat the oil in a 1 to 2 quart saucepan. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop turn off the heat (should only take about 5 to 10 seconds). Mix in the banana, salt, paprika, and yogurt. Before serving, sprinkle with the cumin. Serve cold.

My notes: I used lowfat yogurt (1.5% fat) and it came out delicious. I also missed the bit about serving it cold, and served it right off the stove: not hot but certainly not cold. Finally, I missed the instructions to dice the banana, and just sliced it, but I liked the big slices. In fact, both Derek and I really liked this raita. The sweet banana and creamy yogurt were a welcome contrast to all the spicy Indian food we were eating, and the black mustard seeds, paprika and cumin give the raita tons of flavor. It was perhaps just a tad salty for my taste, so next time I might use a sparing 1/2 tsp., and if possible I’d cut down the oil since my other Indian dishes usually use a lot of oil. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’ll definitely include this recipe in my next Indian extravaganza. It’s also a great recipe for using up very ripe bananas.

Rating: B+
Derek: B

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Italian Salsa Verde

December 24, 2007 at 7:26 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Italian, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Spring recipes, unrated, Winter recipes)

Salsa Verde is a thick, Italian, pesto-like sauce, but with just a little more boldness due to the slight bitterness of parsley and the brininess of the capers and lemons. It’s delicious on many vegetables and grain dishes, or stirred into a winter soup. I like to use it on anything that needs a little zing. I particularly like it on grain croquettes and lightly steamed green beans. This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

Toast until surface is dry but not browned (about 15 seconds?):

  • 1 large slice white or light wheat bread

Add bread to bowl of food processor with:

  • 1-2 small garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. juice from 1 lemon

Process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add:

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried thoroughly (about one large bunch?)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained

Pulse until mixture is finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after 3 pulses. If your food processor is small you might need to add the parsley slowly. Transfer mixture to small bowl and serve.

Makes a generous 3/4 cup.

My Notes:

Lemon juice provides a brighter flavor than vinegar. The bread keeps the flavors from getting too harsh and gives the sauce body. The bread is toasted to get rid of execess moisture that could made the sauce gummy. You can use 3 cloves garlic if you don’t mind raging garlic breath. I’ve used only 4.5 Tbs olive oil and it was still good. The food processor helps achieve a uniform texture: if you chop the ingredients by hand it will be less cohesive.

Serve immediately for the best texture and color. Although it will not be as vibrantly green, it will last fine in the fridge in an airtight container for a while (maybe 5-7 days, need to check). If refrigerated, bring back to room temperature and stir to recombine before serving.

Using 1/3 cup olive oil, the nutritional stats are below.  Using the full 1/2 cup of oil would add another 25 calories per Tablespoon.

Update December 20th, 2009:

Derek rates this recipe an A-.  I added it to lightly steamed cauliflower and he rated the combination an A-/B+.  I liked it on the cauliflower, but I think I liked it even better with raw cauliflower, which contributes a great crispness to the dish.  I think raw cauliflower and salsa verde would make a nice appetizer.  I’m not sure how you’d serve it though.  On toothpicks?  Let people dip it themselves?  Cut the florets in half and make little cauliflower sandwiches?  Any ideas?

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Amount Per Serving
Calories 64
Total Fat 6.2g
Saturated Fat 0.8g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 84mg
Carbohydrate 2.1g
Dietary Fiber 0.6g
Sugars 0.3g
Protein 0.7g
Vitamin A 17% Vitamin C 24%
Calcium    2% Iron 4%

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Tomatillo Sauce

September 21, 2007 at 8:36 pm (Mexican & S. American, My brain, Sauce/dressing, unrated)

Making tomatillo sauce sounds so simple, I invariably forgo following a recipe and decide to just wing it—which is inevitably a disaster.  I don’t know why but my improvised tomatillo sauces are typically inedible.  Here’s what I did this week:

I roasted at a high temperature in the oven until the peppers were slightly blackened:

  • a little over a pound of fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 small red onions, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded
  • 1 poblano, seeded and halved

Then I removed the pepper skins and threw everything into the blender.  The resulting sauce tasted truly horrible.  It sounds like it should be fine, right?  A friend on hearing this tale said it probably just needed cilantro and lime, but I’m skeptical.   I didn’t want to add it because I was certain it was going to be a waste of perfectly good cilantro and lime. It really tasted awful.  I compared this recipe to a recipe in Rick Bayless’s cookbook, which called for roasting tomatillos.  The major difference I saw was that he didn’t roast the onions (and maybe the garlic?), but instead put them in raw.  That makes sense, as you want the onion to give a little bit of bite.  Next time I improvise this sauce, I will not roast any onions.  Repeat, I will not roast onions.

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Hot Fudge Sauce

March 15, 2007 at 1:56 pm (Dessert, Ice cream & toppings, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, unrated, Website / blog)

Most hot fudge sauce recipes call for bar chocolate, corn syrup, and heavy cream, none of which I typically have around. So what to do when you get a desperate desire for hot fudge at 11:30pm, after all the stores are closed? Here’s my improvised version:

  • 1/4 cup cocoa (sifted)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup organic half and half
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • a touch of vanilla

It was pretty good. In the past my improvisations have tasted more like chocolate syrup than hot fudge, but this concoction leaned closer to the hot fudge side. It was perhaps a tad too sweet and a bit too thin. I think next time I would use 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup half and half. It’s not at all healthy of course, but is hot fudge ever healthy?

I tried a similar version from epicurious, which had overwhelming positive reviews. Here’s the recipe with my modifications:

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (I used table cream with 15% fat)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (omitted, but added a Tbs. of white sugar)
  • 1/6 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (a bit too much for my taste)
  • 3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped (I used 2 ounces callebaut bittersweet)
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter ( I felt like it had a bit too much of a butter taste, so next time I’d try less)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I forgot this)

The final hot fudge sauce had the perfect consistency: thick, shiny, it hardened a bit when poured over ice cream, but just the very surface, the rest was still warm and gooey. The flavor was good but not quite perfect, I’m not sure why. I can’t decided if it was too sweet or not sweet enough. Certainly there was too much of a butter flavor.

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Guacamole

February 11, 2007 at 1:02 pm (B_, Cook's Illustrated, Mexican & S. American, Sauce/dressing)

I got adventurous and tried Cook’s Illustrated light guacamole recipe using… frozen lima beans.  That’s right, scary, but true.

  • 1 medium tomato (about 5 ounces), cored, seeded, and chopped fine (about 1 cup) ~ I used canned petite diced
  • 1 cup frozen *mature* lima beans (about 5 ounces) (I accidentally bought baby lima beans. They say in this case it’s hard to skin them so I just left the skins on for the fiber. The guacamole was a tad bit grainy due to the skins.)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, preferably Haas (about 7 ounces)
  • 3 Tbs. juice from 2 limes
  • 2 Tbs. reduced-fat mayonnaise (I omitted this since I didn’t have it)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1/4 tsp. It was fine, but prob. would have been fine with 1/2 tsp. as well.)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium jalepeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced red onion or shallot
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Place the tomato in a small colander set inside a bowl and set aside to drain while preparing the rest of the guacamole.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small sauce pan over high heat. Add the frozen lima beans and cook until creamy, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water until cool. Pat the beans dry with paper towels then remove the skins by pinching the beans so the skins slide off.
  3. Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and scoop out a quarter of the flesh. Puree a quarter of the avocado, skinned lima beans, lime juice, mayo, and salt together in a food processor until smooth, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Cube the remaining three-quarters of the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces, and scrape into a medium bowl. Add the pureed lima mixture, drained tomato, cilantro, jalepeno, onion, garlic, and cumin, and stir gently to combine. Season to taste with pepper. Transfer the guacamole to a serving bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the flavors meld, about 1 hour.

Makes 2 cups. They say a serving is 1/4 cup:

70 cal, 4g fat, .5g sat fat, 0 chol, 8g carb, 2g protein, 3g fiber, 210mg sodiumMy Notes:

Cook’s Illustrated says that the guacamole, covered with plastic wrap pressed flush against the surface of the dip, can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature and season with additional lime juice, salt, and pepper, as needed before serving.  I’m in a bit leery of plastic wrap touching my food, esp. fatty foods, so I just stored mine in a regular tupperware, and it was fine~didn’t brown at all. It lasted fine for two days.  It might have been fine for longer even, but I couldn’t tell you, since after two days it was all gone ).

The adulterated guacamole has more fiber and protein, and less fat than normal guacamole. I think standard guacamole is about 77% fat, but this is about 40% fat.

The flavor was very good~it basically tasted like guacamole. It definitely didn’t taste as rich as normal, but with all the tomatoes, cilantro, jalepeno, garlic, lime juice etc. once it was in my burrito I’m not sure I would have noticed. I gave it to a friend and she said it “tasted very fresh”.  I told her that I put it in a new ingredient and asked her to identify it~she had no idea. Said it tasted like very yummy guacamole to her.

I don’t know if I would make this just to lower the calorie/fat content of guacamole, unless I was eating it with chips, in which case the chips have enough fat already.  I do consider the recipe a keeper though, for those situations where I only have one avocado and want to make a bigger batch for more people! Those things are expensive!

BTW, cook’s illustrated said they tried green peas and asparagus and edamame but they liked the lima beans the best.  They said peas gave it an earthy flavor and too sweet, asparagus watered it down and had a fibrous texture and unappetizing army green color. Edamame worked well to carry the flavor, but gave it a grainy texture.

Rating: B

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Cabbage carrot salad with peanut dressing

January 5, 2007 at 4:41 am (B_, Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Sauce/dressing)

This is a cook’s illustrated recipe that I’ve made a few times, and quite enjoy. It’s a piquant alternative to traditional coleslaw.

Makes about 5-6 cups.

1 pound green cabbage (about 1/2 medium head), shredded fine
1 large carrot , peeled and grated
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped coarse
1 1/2 inch piece ginger , peeled
1/2 jalapeño chile , halved and seeded
4 medium radishes , halved lengthwise and sliced thin
4 medium scallions , sliced thin
  1. Shred the cabbage using the slicing blade of a food processor, or slice by hand. Grate the carrot in the food processor or by hand. Slice the radishes in the food processor or by hand.
  2. In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, puree the peanut butter, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño until smooth paste is formed.
  3. Toss the cabbage and carrot, radishes, scallions, and dressing together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

My Notes:

First let me say that I think Cook’s Illustrated’s obsession with salting and draining cabbage is absurd. Omitting that part of the recipe left a happy grin on my face. Even if you don’t eat the salad right away, and it waters down the dressing a tad, who cares? It’s worth it for the extra crispness, and for the time and bother saved. Okay, now that that’s covered….

I guess I had a very large head of cabbage because 1 pound was less than 1/4 of my cabbage. I used crunchy (natural) peanut butter, since that was all I had, and I thought it was just fine. I didn’t have peanut oil so substituted 1/4 Tbs. olive oil and 1/4 Tbs. toasted sesame oil. It probably would have been fine with no oil. I was out of honey so used maple syrup and accidentally used a whole Tbs. rather than just a tsp. Oops. It didn’t taste too sweet though. I started out trying to just mix the dressing with a fork, but that was a bad idea, so I got out my stick blender–much neater than messing the food processor. Of course, I could have prepped the cabbage and carrot in the processor, but I did them easily and quickly by hand. I didn’t have radishes so added an extra 4 ounces of cabbage.

I thought the salad was very pleasant. I had a big bowl–then another. Before I knew it I had finished all 6 cups of it. Oops again. I guess it probably deserves more than a “just pleasant”, huh? Or maybe I was just hungry…

Rating: B.

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Intense Garlic Ginger Dressing

December 10, 2006 at 11:35 pm (Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, unrated)

I used to make this dressing often in my college co-op days. It’s intense from the raw garlic and ginger, which some people shy away from, but I really love. It’s also quite watery since it’s mostly vinegar and very little oil. But I find that it flavors the salad well enough, even though it doesn’t “stick.” I don’t remember where this recipe originated.

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. oil, mostly roasted sesame

I think it yields about 2/3 cup of dressing, and makes about 8 servings? I have to check though.

My Notes:

I made this yesterday, but minced the ginger instead of grating it. Two Tbs. of soy sauce sounds like a lot but I didn’t think this was too salty (although I did use reduced sodium soy sauce.) It was quite tasty but the raw garlic and ginger flavors were mostly missing. Maybe because I didn’t grate the ginger? Or I should have let it sit longer for the flavors to meld?

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Kale and Tahini Sauce

November 11, 2006 at 7:29 am (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Vegetable dishes)

This is an update of a post from 2006.  Kale season is finally here in Germany, and I bought a huge bag of curly kale last weekend.  I steamed it (without salt) and served it with a homemade tahini sauce.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  The kale stayed bright green without being tough, and the tahini sauce complemented it very well.  Even though the kale wasn’t salted, the tahini sauce was salty so the whole dish tasted balanced. Read the rest of this entry »

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Warm Apple Compote

October 30, 2006 at 4:42 am (breakfast, B_, Dessert, From a friend, Fruit, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

My friend Shakti gave me this recipe. She said it’s “really, really good.”

3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 cup apple juice
2 Tbs maple syrup or sucanat
1 tsp minced orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt

In a large non reactive saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to a light syrup, about 15 min.. Serve warm. Store in airtight container in fridge up to 4 days.

Makes 2 cups.

My notes:

This is kind of like a spicy, soupy applesauce. Of course, I didn’t peel the apples since I love the peels. I’m not sure it needed the maple syrup–apples and apple juice are sweet enough I think. I thought the ginger in this recipe overpowered the other flavors a bit, although maybe I mismeasured. I think if I make it again I may just use 1-1.5 tsp. of minced ginger. I didn’t have an orange so I threw in some dried orange peel. I also used cider instead of regular apple juice. I enjoyed this with some plain yogurt, but in the end I’m not sure I liked it all that much more than my simple peel-delicious applesauce with cinnamon.

Rating: B

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Steamed and Sauced

August 19, 2006 at 9:43 am (Dark leafy greens, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

Steaming is supposed to be one of the healthiest way to cook vegetables, but I find that steamed vegetables are often rather bland. The solution? Add a small amount of a strongly flavor sauce. This maximizes flavor, health, and has the added advantage of being extremely easy. Once you make a sauce it will often keep in the fridge or freezer, ready to be used on a number of different vegetables (or grains or other dishes) at a moment’s notice. I’d like to eventually have at least two sauces that go well with every vegetable. Here’s my repetoire so far. I’ll keep updating this as I get new ideas. Additions/suggestions are welcome!

Asparagus:
Beets: mustard vinaigrette | japanese carrot dressing
Broccoli: sesame soy dressing | japanese carrot dressing | sesame noodle dressing
Brussels sprouts: mustard lemon yogurt
Cabbage:
Carrots:
Cauliflower: salsa verde | lemon mustard vinaigrette
Chard: guacamole
Collards: soy mayo
Fennel: mustard vinaigrette
Green beans: mustard vinaigrette | pizza sauce | italian salsa verde
Kale: tahini sauce
Mushrooms:
Spinach:
Zucchini: pesto? | italian salsa verde?

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Lemon – Mustard Green Beans (B+)

August 18, 2006 at 5:42 am (B plus, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes)

These green beans are a beautiful emerald green and the dressing is piquant, rich, and wonderful. Based on a recipe from the cookbook Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley.

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add 1 Tbs of salt. Place in a bowl:

* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (not in rounds!?)

Cover with 2 cups of the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help mellow the onions. Drop into the remaining boiling water, and cook, for 4 to 6 minutes, until crisp-tender, or a tiny bit undercooked (remember they will keep cooking once they come out for a few minutes):

* 1.5 pounds green beans, trimmed

Drain the onions and toss them with

* 1/2 tsp salt (too much?)
* pinch freshly milled black pepper
* 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Make the vinaigrette. Whisk together in a large serving bowl until oil is emulsified and creamy:

* 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
* 1/8 tsp cayenne
* 1 small garlic clove, crushed
* 1 Tbs Dijon-style mustard
* 1 tsp honey
* 2 Tbs freshly sequeezed lemon juice
* 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil (2 plenty?)

Drain the onions once again, squeezing them dry. Add the onions and the green beans to the vinaigrette and toss well. Let marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving, but can wait up to ? minutes.

My Notes

Personally, I love this dish. Whenever I make it I just want to eat the whole bowl of beans. Others have seemed less enthusiastic though. Derek says it’s just too standard, not creative enough. In any case, I love it, and I also love the vinaigrette on other veggies, particularly beets. Again, others have said they feel like the mustard overwhelms the beet flavor, but I think the combination of sweet silky beets with the piquant, rich dressing is wondeful.

If you want you can add other complementary vegetables, like cauliflower. Just make sure to cut them in small enough pieces to absorb the marinade. After a night in the fridge the green beans lose their brilliant green and take on the sallow army green of canned green beans. They don’t taste bad exactly, but they certainly don’t look good, so serve these immediately.

Today I made a dressing with:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. mustard
3/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. cayenne
4 Tbs. lemon juice

I forgot the garlic, and the ratio of lemon juice to olive oil was much different than above, but I really enjoyed it. The balance tasted great to me. It made enough for probably 3 big bowls of green beans. Also, I steamed my beans and they cooked perfectly.

Rating: B+

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Peel-delicious Applesauce

August 17, 2006 at 11:53 am (B plus, breakfast, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

My CSA farmer emailed me today and asked me if I could use some “discard” apples~ones with big bruises, bites taken out of them, holes, etc. I said sure!

When I went to my pickup today there was a *HUGE* box of apples waiting for me. I had no idea it was going to be so many. So I went through pulled out the worst looking apples, cut out the cores and bad spots, roughly diced them, and boiled them in a bit of water. There were two different types of apples, a yellow and a red one, one of which broke down quickly and the other stayed more chunky. I used a potato masher to break the chunky pieces down a bit more. The sauce is beautiful colored and textured and it tastes great! And since I left the peels in it’s a whole food with all the great fiber and antioxidants and everything. Why can’t I find commercial applesauce with the peels?

The applesauce didn’t need any sugar in my opinion, so I just added some cinnamon and put it in the fridge–almost two quarts of apple sauce and I still have the other 3/4 of the apples left! Of course, they’re in pretty good shape so I’m guessing I can leave them out for a few days? But what should I do with them??

Rating: B+

Update Nov 2012:

This week I made a ginger cranberry applesauce that is bright and hot:

  • 725 g apple chunks (with peels but no cores) 
  • 100g raw cranberries
  • 17g peeled, minced ginger
  • 2? Tbs. of water

Instructions:  Add all the ingredients to a 1.5- to 2-quart pot, bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Cook, covered, until the applesauce has the consistency you like.

I used a mix of a baking apple that dissolved into sauce and an eating apple that stayed a bit chunkier.  The applesauce was intensely ginger-y and a very cheery red.  If you want something a little mellower, you could probably use half as many cranberries and half as much ginger.

This made 725g of  applesauce (about 1 pound 10 oz), about 3 cups worth.

 

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Sesame noodles (tahini style)

June 30, 2006 at 9:29 am (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Isa C. Moskowitz, Madhur Jaffrey, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Starches, Tofu)

I love the cold sesame noodles at China Palace in Pittsburgh. This isn’t quite the same, but it’s rich and salty and complex all the same.  Serve it with julienned raw veggies and crispy tofu.  Based on a recipe from Madhur Jeffrey’s World of the East.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, about 4 quarts of water.  Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli and sauce. Chop

  • two small heads of broccoli, stems sliced thinly and tops broken into small florets (about 1 lb 8 oz. broccoli in total–after trimming any woody stems–usually around 7 cups of florets and 2 cups of stems)

In a large serving bowl, mix together with a fork until you have a smooth paste:

  • 3/8 tsp kosher salt (if you have fine salt use only a 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbs neutral-tasting oil or peanut oil (use the spoon you’ll use for the tahini to measure this)
  • 1.5 tsp. toasted sesame oil (you can leave this out and instead drizzle it over the noodles)
  • 3 Tbs. tahini (using the spoon you used to measure the oil)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

When the water comes to a boil, salt the water (add 2-3 tsp salt), then add the broccoli stems, the broccoli florets, and then:

  • 1/2 lb. soba noodles, udon noodles, spaghetti, or Chinese egg noodles

Actually, the order will depend on how long the noodles need to cook.  My soba noodles are very thin and only take about 3 or 4 minutes to cook, so I add the broccoli first.  I let the broccoli stems cook for 1 minute, the broccoli florets cook for another 2 minutes and then add the noodles.  However, if your noodles take more than five or six minutes to cook you’ll want to add the noodles first.  The broccoli should take a total of about 4 to 6 minutes to cook, including the time with the noodles. (The exact time will depend on exactly how large your broccoli pieces are.)

While the noodles cook, roast in a small skillet:

  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds (white, hulled seeds crisp up and look prettier than beige, unhulled sesame seeds, but both taste good)

When the noodles and broccoli are cooked, drain them and if using soba or udon noodles rinse under cold running water to release the extra starch, then add the noodles to the bowl with the sauce.  Sprinkle on top:

  • 2 Tbs roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Serve immediately.

This dish has quite a lot of broccoli, and sauce too.  It’s oily and quite salty, and filling.  There’s a mild but noticeable heat from the cayenne. Derek loves this recipe, and asks for it at least once a week.  I enjoy it as well, although I prefer to make it into more of a salad by adding lots of  raw veggies (partly because the noodles as Derek prefers them are quite salty).  I usually julienne about 4 cups of raw vegetables.  I like cucumber, carrots, red and yellow bell pepper, radishes, jicama, bean sprouts, scallions, kohlrabi, etc.  I usually keep the raw veggies separate from the noodles and broccoli so that Derek and I can mix in our preferred proportion of raw veggies.  Last time I made this I served it with cucumbers that had been marinating in a sweet, vinegary dressing, and Derek really liked the combination, much more than plain julienned cucumbers.

I would say that this recipe makes 4 generous servings, which should be enough for dinner for four people, but people always seem to want seconds.  So realistically I would say that by itself this recipe serves three, and if you serve it with a lot of raw vegetables and some spicy, crispy tofu cubes then it serves four people for dinner.  Usually I just make this recipe for Derek and I, and we split the leftovers into two small lunches or I give it as a big lunch to Derek.  Leftovers from this recipe make a nice lunch the next day (hot or cold). I never have any difficulty getting rid of the leftovers!

This recipe is very heavy on the broccoli.  If you’re not a huge fan of broccoli, you can reduce the amount of broccoli to 16-20 ounces and replace the missing broccoli with more pasta.  Try it with 10-12 ounces of pasta maybe.  If you like, you can add even more broccoli–around 1 3/4 pounds.  If you do, however, Derek suggests adding more sauce as well.  He thinks that even with 1.5 pounds of broccoli and 1/2 pound of noodles the dish is slightly undersauced, especially if you add more raw veggies and some tofu on top.

Derek likes this recipe with any kind of noodle.  I do too, but I prefer this recipe with soba noodles, because the flavor is more intense.  However, their dark brown appearance and generally sticky texture yields a dish that is not so beautiful.  The soba noodles are substantially less sticky if you rinse them before adding the sauce, but still the recipe looks a bit like brown congealed slop.  This recipe when made with wheat noodles is much prettier, and would make a nice potluck dish, especially if garnished with a variety of colorful raw veggies.

The sauce is also tasty on cauliflower and other vegetables.  The sauce can be made ahead of time.  Just cover it.  It’s fine at room temperature overnight.

Rating: B+
Derek: A-

Nutritional stats with all the sesame oil and broccoli, and 8 ounces soba noodles.

Macronutrient breakdown:  33% fat, 52% carbs, 15% protein

Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 420
Total Fat 16.9g
Saturated Fat 2.2g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1178mg
Carbohydrate 60g
Dietary Fiber 5.6g
Sugars 4.5g
Protein 16.8g
Vitamin A 23% Vitamin C 256%
Calcium    16% Iron 22%

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