Simple veggie fried rice

July 24, 2022 at 10:11 pm (Chinese, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Grains, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

When I have leftover rice in the fridge and I want a quick lunch or dinner I often make veggie fried rice. Alma likes hers pretty plain, so sometimes I made a first batch pretty plain, with just carrots, tofu, peas, and red cabbage, then I make a second spicy batch with celery, garlic, ginger, chilies, scallions, basil, etc. Then we mix the two together in whatever proportion we prefer.

For the spicier fried rice, I usually start by mincing ginger and garlic, then dice celery and carrots. After that prep is done I start the celery and carrots sautéing in olive oil in my cast iron skillet. While the carrots and celery are cooking I finely cube some tofu and throw that in as well. When the tofu is lightly browned on all sides I add some thinly sliced red cabbage (or green, or napa), the garlic, and the ginger. I might throw in some roasted peanuts as well. After about a minute I add the brown rice and wait for it to brown a little. Once it’s a little bit browned I add frozen green peas until they are warmed through, then I add 2 eggs (beaten as below). Finally, I top the fried rice off with sliced scallions, julienned basil (thai basil if I have it) and chili sauce. That’s my go-to combination but if I don’t have celery or carrots or cabbage or scallions it’s not a problem, I just leave them out. If I have other veggies around (like zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, bok choy, bean sprouts, or broccoli) I might chop them finely and add them as well at the appropriate time.

I don’t usually measure anything, but if you want to see some possible amounts there is one more detailed recipe below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Summer Rolls / Spring Rolls

July 24, 2022 at 4:32 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Spring recipes, Summer recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes) (, )

Summer rolls (the non-fried rolls, which we usually just refer to as spring rolls) are delicious, healthy, fresh, kid-friendly, and most importantly, a perfect springtime antidote to winter-induced “vegetarian mush syndrome.” It’s amazing how quickly spring rolls can be made. If I restrain myself, and prepare only a few items for fillings, I can have dinner on the table in under 15 minutes. (Of course, depending on how many fillings you make it could take hours!)

Spring rolls are versatile as well. Although they’re typically served as appetizers, I generally use them as a main course. My sister was visiting recently and when I told her I was making spring rolls for dinner she was skeptical that they would be filling / satisfying enough for a main course, but after she tried them she was pleasantly surprised. Spring rolls also work well as a light snack, and they can be made the night before and packed in a lunch box. You can also prep some fillings and sauce and leave them in your fridge for several days, making yourself a spring roll whenever you need a quick bite to eat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick weeknight thai curry

March 2, 2022 at 10:37 pm (B_(2.5 stars, like), Cruciferous rich, Deborah Madison, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, Seitan, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

For a while now I’ve been wanting to add a thai curry to our monthly menu rotation. But Alma won’t yet eat thai curry, and my existing recipe is a little bit complicated when I’m in a rush. When I saw this “Bare-bones tofu curry” in Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, I decided it was worth a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tofu and veg in turmeric lemon grass broth

April 20, 2021 at 9:04 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Deborah Madison, East and SE Asia, Silken tofu, soup, Tofu)

This is a quick thai-inspired recipe from the cookbook Vegetarian Supper from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. It’s basically tofu and quick-cooking vegetables simmered in just a small amount of vibrant yellow, flavorful liquid. The first time I made it I added a few tablespoons of coconut milk, and both Derek and I really enjoyed it. It’s like a really quick thai curry without much broth at all. For my veggies I used asparagus and snow peas (from the freezer). But I used more than a handful. Maybe a few cups? I bought somen noodles for this recipe, but then forgot to cook them ahead of time, and was too hungry to wait, so we just ate the dish without rice or noodles.

I didn’t measure all that carefully. I bought 3 lemongrass stalks and used all 3, and more than one slice of ginger, and kaffir lime leaves instead of lime zest. Rather than just throw out the veggies after straining them I decided to try simmering them again, and the second batch of broth also turned out very flavorful. So I think I’d probably use more of the broth veggies and quite a bit more water—maybe 4 cups? Or at least make a second batch of broth after the first one.

Alma tasted one bite and said she didn’t like it. It was a little spicy, but even if I had left the jalapeno out I doubt she would have eaten it. I wonder how I can get her used to the flavors of a thai curry?

The recipe:

First make the broth. In a small sauce bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until reduced to about 3/4 cup:

  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh or frozen lemon grass
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • grated zest of 1 lime (I couldn’t find organic limes so used a few kaffir lime leaves)
  • 2 cilantro sprigs
  • 1.5 cups water
  • big pinch of salt

Strain the broth and add

  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce or fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar or maple syrup

While the broth is simmering, make the tofu and veggies.

  • 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1 carton soft tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1 tsp. toasted peanut oil (I didn’t have any so used toasted sesame oil)
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 scallions, including 2 inches of the greens, diagonally sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno chile, finely diced
  • a handful of quick cooking vegetables, like sugar snap peas, edamame, asparagus tips, baby bok choy, or even diced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • a dash of coconut milk (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked sticky rice or 1 oz. dry somen noodles, cooked (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. cilantro leaves (for garnish)
  • lime wedges (for the table)

Heat a medium skillet, add the oil, and when it’s hot add the garlic onion, scallions and chile. Stir-fry over high heat for 30 seconds, then add the veg, turmeric and tofu. Pour in the strained broth, then simmer until the veg is brigh green and tender-crisp and the tofu is hot, usually a few minutes. Taste for salt. Add the rice or noodles to the dish, if using, then garnish with 2 Tbs. cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges.

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Thai green curry from Ottolenghi’s Plenty

December 12, 2020 at 2:38 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Ottolenghi)

This recipe was based on the recipe for “Purple sprouting broccoli with rice noodles” from Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. It’s basically a green thai curry served over broccolini and rice noodles. We made the sauce and served it with brown rice and whatever vegetables we had around. (We couldn’t find broccolini, so used tofu, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini….) I thought the recipe for the spice paste worked well. I’d make it again. I am curious, however, to compare it to our old recipe for green curry paste from Nancie McDermott’s Thai Vegetarian cookbook. Derek said he thought the paste turned out smoother than that one, probably because I blended it up with coconut milk to get the spice grinder to blend.

Ingredients:

Spice paste:

  • 3/4-inch piece of galangal or fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 medium fresh green chilies, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1.5 lemongrass stalks, outer layer and tough ends removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 Tbs. coriander seeds, finely ground
  • 12/ tsp. cumin seeds, finely ground
  • grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro (with stalks and roots)
  • 2 Tbs.
  • vegetable oil (I used maybe 1 to 2 Tbs. of coconut milk instead, just enough to get the mixture to blend)

Rest of sauce:

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil (I used maybe 1 tsp.?)
  • salt
  • 1 tsp. palm sugar
  • 7 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients for the paste in the small bowl of a food processor. (I used a spice grinder.) Blend to a paste. You might need to stop once or twice to scrape the mixture back down from the sides of the bowl or add a little extra lime juice or oil. (Instead of oil I used coconut milk.)
  2. Saute the onion in 1 Tbs. of oil in a medium saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. (I used less oil than this since the sauce is rich enough from the coconut oil.) Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp. salt, the palm sugar (I used a natural brown sugar), lime leaves, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. To serve: He says to drizzle 3 to 4 Tbs. of the sauce over warm rice noodles tossed with toasted sesame oil and lime juice and the broccolini, and finish with fresh basil or cilantro and a squirt of lime juice.

We had to add quite a bit more lime than the sauce calls for. But otherwise we thought the recipe was good, and actually pretty easy, especially if we can freeze the paste. Next time I will make a double batch maybe, eat 1/3, and freeze the rest in two portions.

Alma (age 5.75) wouldn’t even try the curry sauce. She had her rice and veggies and tofu plain.

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Sesame fried tofu, bok choy, and quick pickled carrots

November 1, 2020 at 11:05 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Tofu) ()

A friend gifted Derek a copy of the cookbook Home Cookery Year by Claire Thomson (thanks Satnam!) and I went through it on Friday and chose a couple of recipes to try. The first one we tried (for lunch today) was a recipe for sesame fried tofu, bok choy, and quick pickled carrots.

Overall, the results were mixed.  Derek felt it mostly tasted pretty good (though a bit like something you would get at an upmarket “healthy Asian” fast food place, “healthy Asian” is a joke — it involved 6 Tbsp oil for what is supposed to be a “light lunch”).  I felt it was too acidic and unbalanced and somehow made me feel icky afterward (a bit like the Ottolenghi recipe with soba, mango, and eggplant that everyone raves about).  Alma barely touched it (but we kind of expected that).  We both agreed that the fried tofu didn’t have much flavor on its own had a distinct note of raw cornstarch.  It mostly just tasted crunchy.  Our usual method of sauteing tofu in the pan would have been preferable.  This could indicate we did something wrong, but since the frying instructions were not detailed, it’s hard to know what.

We had some issues with the recipe:  1. It seemed to call for a huge amount of cornstarch and sesame seeds.  We were not surprised when the tofu ended up tasting like cornstarch and somewhat raw sesame seeds.  2. It said to drain the carrots after adding some salt, but no water came out even after letting it sit for quite a while.  And even after adding the lime juice the carrots didn’t really taste pickled to me. They just tasted like grated carrots with lime juice on them. 3. The recipe called for “2 bok choys, halved” but we had enormous bok choys from our CSA farm (about as big as Derek’s head!), so it was hard to know exactly how much to use or how to cook them.  4. We didn’t know what light soy sauce was (so we our regular soy sauce and cut the amount in half and it was still plenty salty), and we didn’t know what “runny honey” was, so we just used regular honey.  5. The recipe called for 3 Tbsp oil for frying the tofu, but this mostly got absorbed by the first batch, so we had to add additional oil for the second batch.  Also, we didn’t have sunflower oil, so used olive oil. Could this have affected the absorption?  Seems unlikely.

Overall, Derek thought the combination of flavors was good and would make it again except with our normal sauteed tofu preparation.  I thought the flavor profile was broadly similar to the “tofu steaks” and bok choy dish from Peter Berley, but I much prefer that recipe.

If we were going to try to make the sesame crusted tofu again I think I would toss it with just a little big of cornstarch (not 100g!) and sesame seeds and bake it on a pan in the oven.

The recipe says to serve it with avocado (optional), but we didn’t have any. I doubt the addition would have changed my overall opinion.

Derek: 3/5
Rose: 2/5

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Roasted Eggplant and Black Pepper Tofu

September 1, 2020 at 11:35 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Ottolenghi, Summer recipes, Tofu, Website / blog)

This is Smitten Kitchen’s riff on Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu recipe. You roast the eggplant and tofu in the oven, then toss them with a sauce made from shallots, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, lots of butter and black pepper. Smitten Kitchen reduced Ottolenghi’s original 11 tablespoons of butter down to what seemed a more reasonable 3 to 4 Tablespoons. Well, so I thought until I realized that the recipe calls for another 4 tablespoons of oil to cook the tofu and eggplant! It seemed way too rich for my taste, so I only used 1 tablespoon of butter to cook the onion in. (I was out of shallots.) I didn’t have any low-sodium soy sauce so I added 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce (instead of the 8 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce) and it tasted plenty salty to me. The tofu and eggplant cooked pretty well in the oven, but some of the smaller eggplant pieces ended up burnt and some of the tofu on the outside of the pan was a bit too dry.

I liked the dish, but even cutting down the butter I found it way too greasy. It tasted like restaurant food, which to Derek was a very good thing, but is not really what I want from home cooking. I think I will try to make this dish again, but I suspect that I can use just 2 Tbs. of oil to roast the eggplant and tofu in (1 for the pan and 1 to toss the eggplant with), and 1 Tbs. of butter for the sauce. The trick will be getting the eggplant nicely cooked without it burning or getting greasy. If anyone has any tips, let me know.

Even though I left the black pepper off, Alma didn’t like this dish at all (too much garlic and ginger and onions I guess). She ate some of the roasted eggplant and tofu plain without the sauce. Derek and I ended up adding a lot of black pepper to our own bowls. Yum.

 

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How to make a stir fry

February 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cooking tips, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, Other)

I’ve always been terrible at stir-frying. You can see many of my previous stir-fry posts for evidence. When I try to wing it, it just doesn’t taste right. And when I try to follow a recipe, most of the time the result is disastrous. I’ve tried many recipes for “stir-fry sauces” over the years and they are almost always terrible, or full of processed store-bought sauces with very strange unpronounceable ingredients. So when one of Derek’s students made us a pretty yummy stir-fry , I asked him to come over and show me how to make it. It was a while ago now, so I’ve probably forgotten part of what I learned, but I’m going to try to record my lessons here.

  1. Tofu: He had me boil the tofu briefly, and it made the texture spongier and more absorbent, a bit more like frozen tofu.  He also had me cut the tofu into huge cubes, but Derek said I should cut them smaller next time. I just pan-fried them in my cast iron skillet the same way I usually do.
  2. Seasoning: We minced a lot of garlic and added some thinly sliced shallots. We also chopped up some cilantro, although I got some grief for getting the wrong (apparently not so flavorful) kind. That was it for seasoning, other than salt and soy sauce. We started by heating my 12-inch stainless steel skillet on high (as high as my oven goes, on the largest burner). When quite hot, we added quite a small amount of oil (1 tsp?) to it, then immediately threw in most (but not all) of the garlic and scallions. After a few seconds we added the slowest cooking vegetable (in our case carrots).
  3. Amounts and timing: We had to make two batches to have enough for all four of us (3 adults + Alma). But I was surprised at how quick it was to make the second batch, especially since we used all the carrots (the slowest veggie) in the first batch. The second batch (with pre-steamed broccoli and other quick cooking vegetables) just took a couple of minutes to make. I think if I was just cooking for Derek and Alma and myself, I could make one batch for dinner and a second batch to have “leftovers” for lunch the next day.
  4. Carrots: We had to add water to the pan in small amounts to get the carrots to cook not burn. Whenever the pan started to brown a bit we added some water.
  5. Broccoli: He said broccoli is a bit tricky, so we steamed it first, until it was almost cooked, and then we added it once the carrots were almost done cooking. That worked well and the final texture came out pretty good.
  6. Mushrooms: He said that the criminis I got weren’t so good for stir-fry, and shiitakes would be better. I think we added the mushrooms too soon, as they ended up a tad overcooked. I think they actually take less time than bell peppers.
  7. Bell peppers: These we cut into quite large pieces and added around the same time as the broccoli.
  8. Salt and soy sauce: We seasoned a bit as we went. I thought the soy sauce would burn since the pan was so hot but it didn’t seem to. He wanted me to taste it as we went for seasoning, but I didn’t want to. I hate tasting food before it’s done. I know, bad, bad cook.
  9. Final seasoning: When all the veggies were just about cooked we threw in the cooked tofu and the rest of the garlic/scallion mixture, along with the chopped cilantro. I was surprised at how tasty it ended up given that there was almost no oil and essentially no sauce.
  10. Cashews: He said they never put cashews in stir-fry, but we like them so I threw a bunch in the oven on low before we started cooking. They were nicely browned by the time the stirfry was ready, and Derek and Alma and I all thought they made a very tasty addition.
  11. Ginger and chilies: There was no ginger in our stirfry, but I missed it. The next time I made a stirfy I julienned some ginger into very thin batons and added them with the garlic and scallions. That way Alma could pick them out. I also ate my stir-fry with some Sambal Olek. I missed some spice.

Other veggies to try: bok choy, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans, ???

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Cauliflower fried “rice” with carrots, peas, and corn

January 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, One pot wonders, Quick weeknight recipe, Soy and seitan, Website / blog)

So I haven’t been blogging much lately. We have been cooking, but we haven’t been making so many new recipes. Blame my toddler. Alma (at almost 3) is not what I would call a super picky eater. She will eat most vegetables, and almost all types of beans, whole grains, fruits, and nuts. That said, in comparison to Derek and I, she is soooo picky. She doesn’t yet like most spices and herbs, she’s adverse to many “mixed” dishes, and she’s generally nervous about anything new. It’s hard to get up the energy to try a new recipe, when you know that with high likelihood it will be rejected, at least on the first attempt.

But I am still in need of quick, healthy weeknight recipes as well as healthy, vegetable-containing breakfasts. So I went on a search for “kid friendly” recipes. Most of what I found was either a dessert, non-vegetarian, or flour-, dairy-, or grain-based, with few to no vegetables. Not what I was looking for. Then I came across this recipe for a one-skillet cauliflower “fried rice” on the Super Healthy Kids blog, and it reminded me that I’d been meaning to try making fried rice out of cauliflower for a while. This particular version looks a little wan — there’s no scallions, no ginger, no chilies. But I figured it would be a good first version to test on Alma (who won’t touch scallions or chilies, and isn’t a huge fan of ginger). Read the rest of this entry »

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Crisp marinated and baked tofu

January 7, 2016 at 8:57 pm (Baked tofu, B_minus (2 stars, okay), East and SE Asia, Tofu, Website / blog)

This recipe has you press tofu, marinate it overnight in the fridge, drain it, dredge it in cornstarch, and bake it on an unoiled cookie sheet until the outside is crisp on the inside, but still soft on the inside.  The recipe is originally from Joe Yonan, but I found it on David Lebovitz’s blog. He raves about it, and it’s a different technique than I’ve used before. Normally I either pan-fry tofu, bake it submerged in a marinade, or bread it then bake it in thin slices. This recipe is something a little bit different. 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 (C (1 star, edible), 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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Green bean, kohlrabi, and celery stirfry

September 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, My brain, One pot wonders, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

Tonight was a “use what’s in the fridge and be quick about it” dinner. I threw together this stirfry and Derek liked it so much that he asked me to write up what I did. I didn’t measure or time anything, so below is just a best guess. Read the rest of this entry »

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What we’ve been cooking this week

May 17, 2015 at 8:01 pm (Beans, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Georgeanne Brennan, Indian, Isa C. Moskowitz, Menus, Middle East / N. Africa, Nancie McDermott, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

I say what we’ve been cooking instead of what I’ve been cooking, because with the new baby, Derek has been doing about as much cooking as I have, if not more. In the first few months he was mostly just making old standbys, but in the last week or two we’ve finally started to branch out and try some new recipes. I don’t have time to write full blog posts about each one, so I’ll write a short blurb here for each. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sautéed Cabbage with Miso and Scallions

March 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Quick weeknight recipe)

Alma is six weeks old tomorrow, and I’m finally finding a tiny bit of time to do some cooking. Derek brought home a savoy cabbage and a bunch of scallions, and I decided to try this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, even though it calls for green cabbage, not savoy cabbage. The recipe recommends soaking the cabbage briefly to reduce bitterness / sulfurous and provide extra moisture to help the cabbage steam. I wasn’t sure if the savoy cabbage needed this step, but I did it anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sweet caramelized tofu with shredded brussels sprouts and pecans

January 19, 2015 at 3:17 pm (101 cookbooks, Chinese, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Tofu, unrated, Winter recipes)

I wanted to use up some brussels sprouts and cilantro, and found this recipe for a tofu, sprout stirfry on 101cookbooks. It looked interesting, and we had all the ingredients on hand, so Derek and I gave it a try for lunch yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thai mushroom and tofu stirfry with fresh mint

December 31, 2014 at 4:14 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu, Vegetable dishes) ()

I bought a large bunch of mint for this lemon mint lentil potato ragout recipe, but didn’t use it all up, and went looking for something to do with all the mint. I found this recipe in Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai cookbook. It looked pretty simple and called for a whole cup of mint leaves, so Derek and I made it for dinner the other night. Read the rest of this entry »

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Immunity soup with a garlic, ginger, pepper broth

May 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm (101 cookbooks, C (1 star, edible), East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, soup, Spring recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes)

I liked the miso tahini turnip soup from 101cookbooks so much I decided to try another soup recipe from her blog, this time for “immunity soup,” built on a garlic, ginger, pepper broth. The recipe calls for white pepper but I didn’t have any,  so I just used black pepper. I assumed the only difference was cosmetic, but maybe white pepper actually tastes different, because this recipe was a let down. I thought the soup would be wasabi-up-your-sinuses intense, but we found it bland, even after adding more black pepper. I really like clean, brothy soups in general, but this one was unsatisfying. It didn’t taste bad, it was just boring and a bit bland. Maybe if I’d been able to find some pea shoots they would have brought the whole dish together? I doubt it.

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Broccoli salad with ginger vinaigrette

April 13, 2014 at 10:06 am (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, Peter Berley)

Derek loves broccoli, but I have surprisingly few easy broccoli recipes. My two standbys are sesame broccoli and pan-fried broccoli with garlic, but I’d love a nice easy recipe for broccoli salad. I still remember a delicious salad made from grated broccoli stems from the buffet at Whole Foods in Pittsburgh years ago. This recipe, from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, looked like just what I was looking for.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Daikon “Steaks”

November 9, 2013 at 12:39 am (Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, unrated, Website / blog)

Kimdo, a local Japanese restaurant here in Saarbruecken, has a braised daikon steak dish that I really like. I thought I’d try to make something similar at home. I started out with this recipe from the Nobu Vegetarian cookbook. I didn’t make the salsa topping, but I did cook the tofu in kombu broth. I screwed up the second step, however. I was supposed to add mirin, salt, and pepper to the kombu broth, bring the liquid back to a simmer, and then let the daikon cool down in the broth. But I just added the mirin to the already cold broth, which was clearly a mistake. Also I don’t think that I cooked the daikon quite long enough. The final daikon ended up being a tad too raw tasting and underseasoned, but still pretty tasty. I definitely want to keep working on this recipe! Read the rest of this entry »

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Chinese cabbage with black pepper and garlic

October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe)

I occasionally buy napa cabbage to make this wonderful vietnamese slaw, but then I never know what to do with the leftovers.  I have very few recipes that actually call for napa cabbage.  This time I bought the napa to make kim chee, but the end result was the same—leftover napa cabbage languishing in the crisper drawer.  I searched in my cookbooks for a new recipe to try and found this one in Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott.  It’s a really simple recipe.  You just saute up the cabbage with a lot of garlic and a bit of a sweet/salty/soy sauce, and add lots of freshly ground pepper. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot and sour tofu and rice soup

November 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), East and SE Asia, F (0 stars, dislike), Grains, soup, Spring recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes)

I’ve never actually had hot and sour soup before, so I’m not sure what it’s supposed to taste like.  But Derek has fond memories of it, so I thought I’d give this recipe from the AMA cookbook a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ginger baked tofu

November 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm (Baked tofu, East and SE Asia, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu, unrated)

I needed to use up some tofu before I went out of town a few weeks ago, and I wanted to make something I could use to make sandwiches.  I decided to try marinating the tofu in an Asian, gingery marinade, then baking it in the oven.  I started off with the recipe for sweet ginger tofu in Peter Berley’s cookbook Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, but then I modified it a bit.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Two recipes from The Vegetarian Table Thailand

September 20, 2012 at 10:46 am (Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Other, Tempeh, Tofu, unrated)

I’ve made a number of excellent recipes from the cookbook The Vegetarian Table: France, and so last time I was at Half Price books in Austin I picked up some more books from the same series:  Thailand, Japan, and Mexico.  This week I finally got a chance to try two recipes from the Thailand book (by Jacki Passmore).  I told Derek I wanted something relatively easy, and he picked out a recipe for cauliflower and beans in coconut and peanut sauce, and one for a tempeh stir-fry with red bell peppers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spicy coconut sweet potato soup with collard greens

January 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm (East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Winter recipes)

This is another coconut curry with winter vegetables, but this one is from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and I actually made it a few weeks before the recipe I just posted about.  Unlike McDermott’s recipe, this one doesn’t call for curry paste. Instead you add the seasonings individually—garlic, jalapeno, ginger, ground coriander seeds, and turmeric. McDermott has you saute the curry paste and onion in some of the coconut milk, but Berley calls for 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Given that there’s a whole can of coconut milk in the recipe, I think I’d use McDermott’s method next time.  The previous recipe called for mixed winter vegetables, but this one calls for only one large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks.  Berley doesn’t give a weight for the sweet potato, but he does say that once cut it’s supposed to make 4 cups.  That seems like a large sweet potato! Towards the end of cooking Berley’s recipe calls for 1 small bunch of collards greens cut into strips.  I can’t get collards here, so I subbed in curly kale.  The final step in the recipe is to garnish the stew with cilantro and lime juice.

The soup was paired with a recipe for crispy tempeh strips. The combination sounds good but I couldn’t get myself to deep-fry tempeh. It just seems like such a waste of oil!

Neither Derek nor I cared for this dish very much.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se—it just tasted underseasoned. And unfortunately the kale wasn’t a good substitute for the collards.  I guess kale just doesn’t go with these southeast Asian flavors.  Although we didn’t like the dish that much, we had a guest over for dinner who quite enjoyed it.  He said he doesn’t normally like coconut curries, but this one was excellent!

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

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Red curry with winter vegetables and cashews

January 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Seitan, soup, Starches, Winter recipes)

Back in Pittsburgh I used to make this recipe several times each winter.  This dish has all four essential Thai tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. It tastes just like the curry you’d get in a restaurant, except the addition of vegetable broth results in a lighter dish that’s less overwhelmingly rich. The crunchy cashews make a nice textural contrast to the silky broth and creamy-soft vegetables.  Based on a recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai. Read the rest of this entry »

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Faux pho

August 30, 2011 at 9:32 am (East and SE Asia, Other, Seitan, soup, Tofu, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek’s student Scott is always raving about Phở, a vietnamese noodle soup. Since it’s never vegetarian, I’ve never really tried the real thing.  Wikipedia says that  one of the techniques that distinguishes it from other Asian noodle soups is that charred o­nions are added to the broth for color and flavor.  It also says that  the broth is typically made with charred ginger and spices including cinnamon, star anise, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and cloves.  The soup is also typically served with lots of fresh garnishes, including scallions, white onions, cilantro, Thai basil, fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, and bean sprouts.  Some people also add hoisin sauce or chili sauce.  Although traditional Pho is not vegetarian, I found a recipe for it in the Vietnamese Fusion book (by Chat Mingkwan) I borrowed from my mom, and I also found a recipe in a Vegetarian Resource Group article on vegetarian travel in Vietnam.   Oddly, though, the recipe in the Vietnamese Fusion book didn’t include any dried spices in the broth–just ginger and charred shallots.  So I made a mix of the two recipes.  My soup came out okay, but the broth needed a lot more spice.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Vietnamese Coleslaw

February 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm (A (4 stars, love), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, Other, Salads, Tofu) (, )

When I was in Austin visiting my family I spotted a new cookbook on my mom’s shelf:  Vietnamese Fusion Vegetarian Cuisine by Chat Mingkwan.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to make Vietnamese food, so I asked if I could borrow it.  My mom had already flagged the recipe for Vietnamese Coleslaw, and so I decided to start there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Savory adzuki beans

January 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm (Beans, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, unrated, Winter recipes)

Adzuki beans (also called aduki beans) are the small red beans often used in sweet dishes in China, Korea, and Asia.  They’re relatives of mung beans, urad dal (which is not actually a lentil), and black eyed peas.  But adzukis (in my opinion) are cuter than all their close cousins.  I don’t have many recipes that call for adzukis, perhaps partly because I can’t get them here in Germany.  I brought some back with me from the U.S. last time I was there though, and decided to use the rest of them to try this savory, Asian-flavored adzuki bean recipe from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.

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Green curry with zucchini and bamboo shoots

December 12, 2010 at 10:31 am (C (1 star, edible), East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe)

We’ve been eating the green curry I made last weekend all week.  First we ate it on roasted veggies, then I improvised a green curry with chard and tofu.  It came out okay but not great, so I decided to actually follow a recipe the next time!  This recipe for green curry with zucchini and bamboo shoots from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Bok choy, fennel, and leek

May 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm (C (1 star, edible), Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Other, Vegetable dishes)

I pulled out the Rancho La Puerta cookbook (by Bill Wavrin) this week and started looking for a new recipe to try.  Many of the recipes call for ingredients I can’t get here in Germany.  I did, however, find one recipe with “German” ingredients that intrigued me.  The recipe is titled  bok choy, fennel, and spinach, but it also calls for four leeks, a chile, star anise, garlic, ginger, and fresh rosemary.  The flavors are pretty typical Asian flavors except for the rosemary, which seems odd here.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Thai tofu salad

May 9, 2010 at 10:59 pm (C (1 star, edible), East and SE Asia, Other, Salads, Tofu)

This is another recipe from the cookbook Buddha’s Table by Chat Mingkwan.  I bought mint and cilantro for a recipe, but then forgot which recipe I had bought them for.  I was trying to figure out what to do with the herbs and decided to make a deconstructed Vietnamese spring (summer?) roll salad. But at the last minute I saw this recipe for a minced tofu salad, which calls for mint and cilantro, and decided to try it instead. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stir-fried tofu and cashews with mushrooms and bell peppers

May 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Other, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

My brother gave me the cookbook Buddha’s Table by Chat Mingkwan a few years ago.  I immediately started paging through the book, and left it open on my kitchen table.  The next day as soon as I starting looking at the recipes the pages started falling out.  I suspected that the special “layflat binding” was to blame, but when I called the publisher they assured me that they’ve been using this binding for a long time and have had no trouble with it.  They said they’d send me another copy.  They did, but two days after I received it (and before I’d made even a single recipe) the pages started falling out! I figured it wasn’t worth trying to get a third copy.

Although lots of the recipes looked good, I never did get around to trying them.  Many of the recipes call for “vegetarian or mushroom stir-fry sauce” or other pre-made sauces, which kind of turned me off.  First, I don’t tend to have them on hand.  Second, those sauces are pretty much junk.  Thus, whenever I wanted to make something Thai I always ended up using Nancie McDermott’s Thai cookbook instead.  But last week I was determined to finally try the cookbook out.   I bought some vegetarian stir fry sauce at the local Asian shop.  I figured if I liked the recipe with the stir fry sauce I could always try to figure out how to make up a similar sauce on my own.

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Vegetarian Pad Thai at Home

December 30, 2009 at 2:15 am (Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Other, Pasta, Starches, Tofu, unrated)

I love paht thai, but I rarely order it in restaurants anymore because I’m always disappointed by the oily, bland mockery they serve.  Restaurant pad thai is invariably insufficiently sour, and often too sweet.   Proper pad thai requires a careful balance of sweet, salty, and sour, as well as warm heat and a strong peanut flavor–two other features that are often lacking in restaurant versions of this popular dish.  Traditionally, pad thai is made with salty dried shrimp and fermented fish sauce.  Nancie McDermott, in her book Real Vegetarian Thai, suggests that vegetarians substitute Asian bean sauce (dao jiow), a pungent condiment made from salted, fermented soybeans.  She says that either the “brown bean sauce” or “yellow bean sauce” will work fine.  McDermott’s excellent cookbook includes a recipe for vegetarian phat thai that is superb, if decadent.  If you’re going to eat pad thai, and don’t have any excellent Thai restaurants around, I strongly suggest making it yourself rather than settling for another mediocre mockery.  Here’s Nancie’s recipe, with a few adjustments to reduce the oil content and speed up the process just a little. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fusion chipotle salsa soy stir-fry

August 28, 2009 at 6:07 pm (East and SE Asia, My brain, Summer recipes, Tempeh, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

Last night I was emptying out my fridge in preparation for my upcoming trip to Scotland, and I was trying to figure out what to do with about 1/3 cup of leftover chipotle salsa.  Good salsa is rare around here, so I didn’t want to just toss it.  But good salsa doesn’t seem to last that long, and I was pretty sure it would be moldy by the time I got back from my trip.  The salsa was a quite thick, cooked-style salsa, and visually it reminded me a little of a Thai chile sauce.  Derek was making sesame noodles with broccoli and cucumber for dinner, so I decided to make a stirfry with the salsa and what I found in the fridge:  4 ounces of tempeh, 2 small zucchinis, and a big bag of green beans.  I made a stir-fry sauce out of the chipotle salsa, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and a spoonful of maple syrup.  It was really tasty!  It didn’t really taste fusion–the Mexican flavors in the salsa faded away in comparison to the Asian kick from the soy sauce.  But everyone seemed to like it a lot, and it was an easy way to make a tasty stir fry sauce.

I used a still-oily non-stick skillet to crisp up the tempeh and green beans.  (I julienned the tempeh first.)  Then when the tempeh and green beans started to brown I poured in the stir-fry sauce, which I had watered down so that the tempeh would have some liquid to cook in.  I added the zucchini, which I had cut into thin planks, and covered to cook everything through.  When the green beans were tender-crisp I took off the lid and led the sauce cook down until it was more of a glaze.  I sprinkled the dish with fresh cilantro before serving.   Delicious.  I’d definitely make this “recipe” again.

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