Archive for ‘Vegetarian’

August 5, 2014

Grilled Eggplant

Inspired by a cute, non-assuming little Japanese restaurant in Sunnyside Queens called Takesushi. I may have Chinese-ified it a bit…I’m going to venture to say that smaller eggplants, and especially asian eggplants are more tender. The big behemoth ones are a bit tougher. And they take longer to cook.

Word of advice for folks who don’t own a grill nor the space for it: cast iron stove top griddles! Grill away.

eggplant

INGREDIENTS: (serves 4 as appetizer)

  • 1 large eggplant or 2 medium
  • 1/4 cup hoisen sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Heat grill. (I use an indoor cast iron stove top grill). To make things easier to clean, I lined my grill with aluminum foil, then generously brushed it with oil. Heat until you cannot hold your hand 5 inches from it for over 5 seconds. If it’s on your stove, medium high heat for a good 5+ minutes.
  • Rinse and halve eggplant. Slice off a small sliver from the rounded back of each half, so that it can sit flat on the grill.
  • Brush all sides of eggplant with oil. Score top side of eggplant, criss cross pattern. Cut about half way into the flesh. This allows better sauce/flavor distribution as well as even cooking, but any deeper and it might fall apart on the grill.
  • Place flat/presentation side down. Combine and brush with next three ingredients: hoisen, soy sauce, rice wine over the tops. Grill ~3-5 minutes. Rotate <90 degrees (to create grill mark) and grill another 3-5 minutes. Flip and continue to grill ~3-5 minutes, brush with plenty of hoisen mixture. Rotate <90 degrees again. Continue to brush with sauce if it dries. Eggplant should be deflating a bit. The flesh will be soft and pull away easily. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions over the top. Serve.
March 9, 2014

Homemade Tostones

I’m in the mood for something summery..

afterlight

INGREDIENTS

  • green plantains (firm or tostones will be mushy and fall apart)
  • salt
  • frying oil (peanut, avocado, high smoke pt oil)
  • garlic, minced
  • lime
  • olive oil for dipping

Garlic and Lime Dipping Sauce: Mix minced garlic, olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt. Can be made ahead of time to let garlic flavor infuse the oil.

Image

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and cut plantain in 2 inch thick pieces.
  2. Heat sauce pan on medium high. Add oil until ~ 2 cm deep, heat until shimmering. Test by dipping a corner of a plantain in the oil. It should immediately start bubbling. If not, the oil’s too cold. If the oil is smoking, it’s too hot. When you swirl the pan, the oil should seem less viscous than when it was cold, almost a water-like consistency.
  3. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add plantains one by one and avoid crowding. Fry in batches. Flip when underside is golden brown ~ 3-5 min each side. Adjust heat as needed. If the oil is no longer bubbling rapidly, increase heat. If the oil is bubbling too fiercely, slowly add more oil, introducing it into the side of the pot and not directly over the plantains.
  5. Remove when golden brown, one by one. Place on paper towel lined cutting board so that the plantain is standing upright. With flat side of a large butcher knife or chef’s knife, pound until evenly thin (I prefer 0.5cm thickness). The back of a baking pan will do in a pinch for pounding. Just place the flat surface on top face of the plantain, and with your palm or underside of your fist, pound.
  6. Once all plantains are fried and pounded, reheat oil as in step 2. Return flattened plantains to oil, one by one and quickly fry each side until deep golden brown. ~ 1 min each side.
  7. Set aside and drain.

Tostones

February 18, 2014

Leek + Fennel Bisque

onion fennel bisqueAdapted from Gourmet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large fennel bulb, chopped (set aside stems/fronds) – 3-4 cups
  • 3 medium small leeks, light green and white parts only, chopped – 3 cups
  • 3 medium large onions, chopped – 5-6 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar (or 1/4 cup white wine)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable/chicken stock
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (allspice will work)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional), chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt/black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 5-6 qt dutch oven/pot over medium high Heat. Add butter, swirl to coat bottom, and sauté fennel, leeks, onions, garlic 15 min or. Salt generously. Stir in nutmeg.
  2. Add white wine and let it boil away. 1 min.
  3. Add stock, season to taste, simmer 10-15 min. Stock should not immerse vegetables.  This will end up being a thick bisque, not a runny soup.
  4. In a separate bowl, add cream and ladle in soup slowly to bring temperature up. Slowly incorporate cream mixture into pot. Continue to simmer, 15 min. Soup will thicken slightly. No need to stir.
  5. Heat separate frying pan over medium heat. Fry bacon. set aside.
  6. In batches, blend soup with caution until smooth. Last chance to salt to taste! Amazing what a pinch of salt can bring out. Once it passes that threshold of perfectly salted, all the flavors will come out. Left under-salted, this bisque will taste bland.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls. Add bacon, fennel frond for decoration, serve with toasted crusty bread.

Can be made a day or two ahead of time, chilled, and reheated slowly in the same pot.

There’s a lot of flexibility in the ratio of ingredients. I think it’s silly to throw away extra vegetables just because it does not measure out to be exactly 3 cups per fennel bulb. Just use approximately 1:1:2 ratio of fennel:leeks:onion. And obviously more of whatever flavor you like!

Keep those stems. Great for roasting fish on (so that the bottom does not burn). The mild flavored fronds also make a great garnish (looks like dill!)

October 18, 2013

Roasted Broccoli

roasted broccoli

Ingredients:

  • broccoli
  • salt
  • garlic, minced
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • *optional: shredded Parmesan

Instructions:

  1. preheat oven to 450F.
  2. wash then cut broccoli into equal size florets. (after washing, make sure you shake off all excess water. the drier the broccoli, the better the oil will stick)
  3. in a large mixing bowl, toss florets in olive oil, salt, minced garlic.
  4. spread evenly in one layer on baking pan.
  5. bake 15-20 min or so, until golden brown on edges and generally yummy looking.
  6. sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper. (and parmesan)
September 4, 2013

Breakfast.

photo (1)

Moving to LIC means more time in the mornings for real breakfast. Stole this idea from Inspired by the $3 yogurt cups I was getting at the Pret A Manger by work. Look what my shitty salary has encouraged me to create!

plain greek yogurt + mangos + raw almonds + honey + crumbled dark brown sugar

I love brown sugar. I get mine at the Chinese supermarket. Crumbly. Grainy. Like wet sand. Not to be confused with turbinado, or “raw sugar”. That stuff just doesn’t melt into your food like this does. I also rub this REAL dark brown sugar over pork spare ribs before browning them for stew. Caramelization is your friend. I think I’ll make some stew this week…

I am so getting off topic.

July 17, 2012

Warm Taco Salad w/ Quinoa

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • cooking oil or butter
  • 1 lb ground beef or imitation meat*
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small poblano chili, diced
  • 1 tbs Mexene chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 lime
  • sour cream or greek yogurt mixed with lime juice
  • optional: fresh cilantro for garnish
  • optional: shrimp

*I’ve had the best results with Upton’s Naturals seitan

  1. In a small saucepan, add quinoa over high heat and toast, stirring frequently, until warm. Add chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked through.
  2. Mix chili powder, cumin, paprika. Set aside.
  3. In a separate frying pan, heat 1 tbs oil on medium high until shimmering and add soy crumbles. Season with salt and half of the seasonings. Break up crumbles and stir until heated through. Remove from pan and set aside in a large bowl.
  4. ]In remaining oil (or add more if needed) saute onions until soft and translucent ~5-10 minutes. Add poblano and continue to saute 10 min until soft and onions are just caramelized. Remove from heat.
  5. In large bowl with soy crumbles, mix in onions, poblanos, and cooked quinoa. Mix evenly.
  6. Serve with fresh diced tomatoes, avocados, a dollop of sour cream/greek yogurt, and cilantr.
  7. Optional: Top with shrimp sauted in butter and Tony Chachere’s seasoning.
May 30, 2012

“Beef” and Broccoli

I’m two days into my “detox”, after a weekend of gluttony in LA for the Memorial Day holiday, and all I can think about is some good old greasy fake Chinese food.  Here was my compromise:

This is a WONDERFUL imitation beef. Good firm texture, minimal soy flavor, and the best part? “Lightly Seasoned.” I don’t have to worry about my stir fry tasting like thyme and parsley. This makes them very versatile. At ~$3 bucks a package, I will be stocking up.

I love Trader Joe’s. I love their prepared food section, I love their affordable prices, and most of all, I love SPECULOOS. Holy crap. speculoos filled chocolate bars? Screw this diet. For those of you who are all “speck-you-what?” Speculoos is a nutty spread, much like an illegitimate love child of nutella and caramel. Too good to be true. But oh. It is. Ladies and gentlemen, speculoos IS real. Say it with me now: speculoooooos. And it is slathered over many a waffle in the food truck lined streets of New York City. So delectably decadent, that the last time I was in New York, the whole city was SOLD OUT.  I kid you not.

But I digress. Back to fake – fake Chinese food.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Beef-Less strips
  • ~2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ~2 tbs soy sauce*
  • 3-4 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 dash sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/3 cup water

*like all chinese stir fry, I season to taste. Excuse my approximations. Soy sauces very widely in saltiness.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and slowly stir in corn starch to thicken into a consistency of ….thick chowder. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.
  2. Warm a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add broccoli and a dash of water. Cover and steam, shaking pan frequently without removing cover to mix. Steam ~3 minutes. Uncover and remove broccoli.
  3. Heat 1-2 tbs oil in skillet until shimmery hot. Add beef and break up the strips. Lightly brown evenly. Strips are already cooked. You are basically just browning and warming.
  4. Add florets, garlic, and toss. When garlic becomes fragrant (~1 min), add sauce. Mix. Thin with a water if you want soupier sauce.

Mmm, mmm good. And healthy! AND vegetarian!

May 25, 2012

Spinach Paratha

Very fun to make. Perhaps will mix in white flour next time so it’s not as tough. Also, must invest in real rolling pin instead of using my water bottle. I did not get the skin thin enough, I don’t think. (: Pictured: topped with homemade mango chutney, raita, and baked curry tilapia with raisins and almonds.

May 4, 2012

Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from my hero, Alton Brown.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 whole pepper from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can
  • ~1 cup milk or cream
  • salt
  • 1 tsp+ dried chives (if using fresh, use 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup+ grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Dice sweet potato uniformly into 1 inch cubes. Place in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with wet paper towels. Microwave for 6+ minutes or until fork tender.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add potatoes, minced pepper, adobo sauce, and butter. Add milk bit by bit as you mash, adding more until you reach the consistency of mash potato that you prefer.
  3. Fold in cheese and chives. Salt to taste.

Note: for some reason the potatoes I bought today had white flesh, not orange like your typical sweet potato o_O… had the texture of sweet potato, but it wasn’t nearly as pretty.

Served with sautéed spinach and pan seared scallops:

For a How-To on scallops, feel free to review my previous post!

May 2, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini, Take 2

Just arrived in southern California where I’ll be living for the next 4 months or so! First thing on my agenda? Groceries.

There is a Whole Foods AND a Trader Joes, all within 1 mile of my apartment. I think I’m gonna like it here…

Here’s the original baked zucchini recipe. Although with this type of squash, the stuffing got a bit too runny. I think I may have to precook the shell and drain it before I stuff it.

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