Monday, March 28, 2011

Pineapple Fried Rice

1 3/4 dry jasmine rice (makes about 5.5 cups cooked rice)
1 carrot
1/3 sweet onion
2 dry red chilies
1 c frozen peas
2 eggs
1 1/2 c chopped pineapple
1/3 c dry currants
3 cloves garlic
1 T minced ginger
1/3 c chopped macadamia nuts or cashews
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 spring onions
fish sauce (optional)
soy sauce
dash rice wine vinegar
sesame oil

Indian Korma Curry

Ground nuts in a few seconds from my Vitamix! You can use a food processor as well.

starting at the top and moving clockwise: garlic, cloves, coconut, cumin, coriander, dry chilies, peeled ginger, and a stick of cinnamon in the center

Cooking the paste, with some added water

Simmer the sauce with the grapes and vegetables

I am very intrigued by Indian cuisine. The aromatic combinations they use are incredible. The styles across India are very diverse and I would probably have to spend quite a bit of time living there and studying before I could really speak with much knowledge on the subject.
At my work, like at Whole Foods and some Schnucks stores, we offer cooking classes to the public. As a Foodie (my job title) I get payed to attend some of the classes. I pick out all the vegetarian classes and go to those. Last week I attended a class called 660 curries, named after a book written by the teacher, Raghavan Iyer. He was extremely informative, and actually gives culinary tours of regions in India! Someday I would love to send myself on all kinds of "culinary vacations."

A curry is just a sauce. It doesnt have to have anything in it to make it a curry.. it is just an Indian sauce. I used to think that curry needed coconut milk, or tumeric, or cumin & coriander... Wrong!

So, learning to prepare Indian food is like learning to cook all over again. Recently I ate at a local restaurant called Clay Pit and ordered a curry, called Korma, and was described as a "sinfully rich cashew almond pistachio cream sauce." To most Americans cream sauce means milk, butter, and/or cream.. but none of these were present. the creaminess was from the nuts. I was mesmerized. I have looked through several books since then, searching for something that comes close. I bought the book 660 curries, but none of them reflected my memory of that sauce. Eventually I came across a recipe in a book I borrowed from a friend. Here is the sauce that I made. The book is called Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Savan, and the recipe is called "coconut chicken with cashews." I am going to put *asterisk* by my additions to the sauce, obviously I did not add the chicken.

1 c raw cashews
1/4 c raw pistashios * (mix the 2 together, then separate 1c from 1/4c, as you'll need 1/4c mixed nuts at the very end of the recipe.)
4 whole dry red chili peppers
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
3 T coriander seeds
2 t cumin seeds
1 medium onion, coarsley chopped
8 garlic cloves
a 2inch peice fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1/2 c unsweetened coconut
1/3 c canola oil
1t ground black pepper
2 c water
1 t salt, or to taste
1 zucchini *
couple handfuls of green grapes*
1 red bell pepper*
half a head of cauliflower*
chopped cilantro*

I read through the instructions quickly, and assumed that I knew what to do. Mistake. I need to follow Indian recipes more carefully, since they are new to me. The recipe says to process the nuts until they are crumbs then dry toast all the ingredients from the cashews (just 1 cup) through the coconut. I just assumed that I would cook them all in oil. Wrong. I was supposed to dry toast everything (on the stovetop) until the coconut turns a golden toasty brown, then make a paste (puree) then cook the puree in the oil.
So. I cooked everything in oil, then pureed it in my Vitamix. I am sure it didn't make a huge difference, I loved my sauce, ah well. I was very proud of my Vitamix for pureeing the cinnamon stick amongst the other ingredients. A spice grinder would work too, those run about $20-$40 (but dont last as long as a Vitamix).
Moving on. I made the puree then put it back in the pan and cooked it for a few minutes, stirring continuously and adding water so that it didn't stick to the pan. After a few minutes, I added the rest of the water and continued to stir to incorporate. When it stated to simmer, I added my grapes and veggies and cooked em with the lid slightly on until they were tender. At the end I stirred in the other 1/4 c of ground nuts and served it with naan (Indian flat bread) and jasmine rice. I got rave reviews from Anna and my friend Sabrina, who had dinner with us this night. Awesome! It made quite a bit too, so I got to eat it a couple days for lunch.

Jicama Slaw

jicama is pronounced (pick-a-mah)
It is the root of a plant, and has a potato like peel. Sometimes they are covered in a thick wax to preserve the freshness. It tastes moist and sweet, with the flavor of a subtle pear and the texture of a water chestnut. The root is the only edible part of the jicama plant, the rest is very poisonous! cool!

This makes an enormous batch, so eat it with friends, or have it for lunch/dinner/snack for a couple days. It really hits the spot now that the seasons are changing, as it is light, cool and crisp.

1 head nappa cabbage
1 colored bell pepper
2 apples
1 pear
1 cucumber, seeded
1/4 sweet onion sliced
4-5 scallions
1 smallish jiacama
sunflower seeds
ramen noodles (optional)

2 parts neutral oil (grapeseed, canola)
1 part sesame oil (lots of flavor!)
1 part rice vinegar
1 part mirin (japanese sweet rice wine)
.5 part soy sauce
lime juice
1 clove garlic
1 small piece ginger

Basically, slice all of the salad ingredients up and toss them together. The ramen I bought didn't have the crunch I was going for. I bought organic ramen, and it tasted too... raw. It just wasnt something you'd want to find in your salad, it would have been like buying some spaghetti off the shelf , breaking it up and tossing that in.. not good
Put the dressing ingredients into a blender and puree. Taste it, if you want it sweeter add more mirin. Basically season it to your tastes, this is just an outline to work with. Anna is crazy about this dressing though.
If you are going to keep the salad around for a few days, keep the dressing in a separate container and dress as you go.

Comfort Food Lunch

This is just an example of something quick for lunch that I really really enjoyed and will make again.
We brought home bread from an Italian restaurant in town called Romeos. The menu is not bad, but the bread is very good. Its sweet and super soft, great for sopping up oil or pasta sauce on your plate.
I make my own seitan from scratch, but I saw this package (pictured below) at Whole Foods and was intrigued. I want to eventually add seasonings like this (Italian sausage style) to my own batches, so I thought I would see how the pros do it.
Turns out this brand makes some awesome seitan. Anna and I enjoyed it a few times with eggs on a breakfast sandwich.
I heated it up in a pan, added some marinara sauce to the pan, and once that was hot I melted Fontina cheese on top. Then I loaded it all up inside the bun and toasted the bread in a hot pan with a little oil. THEN, I drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a salt/garlic/herb blend onto my plate and dunked my sandwich into it.
It was crazy crazy good, I loved every dang bite

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kale Sauté

½ bunch kale (doesn’t matter what kind)
¼ large red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/3 lemon
toasted pinenuts
drizzle balsamic vinegar
salt pepper
red pepper flakes
Italian herb blend
cherry tomatoes

Adding lemon, or any citrus to your green vegetables is a good idea. It makes all the super fantastic nutrients easier for your digestive system to absorb!

Wash Kale thoroughly. Seriously. Then, strip the leaves off of the tough stems. Shred the leaves with a sharp knife. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the onion, salt, pepper, red pepper and herbs. Cook until the onion is tender. Add the minced garlic and cook an additional minute. Then add the shredded kale to the pan and toss until it wilts and cooks down. This only takes a minute. Don’t cook it too long, the longer it cooks, the more precious nutrients are destroyed by heat! Finally add the tomatoes, pinenuts, parmesan, balsamic and lemon juice. Heres to our health!

Rosemary “brown butter” Applesauce

This actually isnt the final photo, it will cook down even more than this and be more applesaucey in appearance.

MMMmmm. A classmate of mine brought in a huge bag of rosemary and gave it out to all of us. I sat in lecture the rest of night wondering what I should do with all this rosemary… On my way home from school I bought 5 apples and made this sauce! Thanks Jeanine!
1 bunch rosemary
+dry rosemary to taste
5 apple
¼ earth balance
3 T brown sugar

In a pan heat the earth balance and add the brown sugar and diced fresh rosemary. Bring to a simmer and keep on low until the sugar is dissolved. Strain out the rosemary.
Meanwhile, dice the apples and place in a food processor. I used my blender, but chances are, unless you have a Vitamix, your blender isn’t powerful enough for apples! Blend them in batches, until they are still kind of chunky, and toss them into a wide pot. You may want to add some apple juice. I didn’t have to… but that’s because I have a Vitamix and it juiced some of the apples! Cook the applesauce for an hour on low. As soon as your butter/rosemary mixture is strained, add butter to apples and continue to cook on low. Taste it. I didn’t think the rosemary was coming through strong enough, so I ended up grabbing some dry rosemary from the cupboard, grinding it, and adding it directly into the applesauce until I was happy.

Butternut Squash Coconut Soup

At school we diced up a ton of butternut squash and didn’t use it all, so we all had a homework assignment to take it home and do.. something.. with it. My mind raced. I wanted to do something different than I had in the past, I’ve used a lot of butternut squash and tend to make a few of the same tasty dishes over and over again.
A few days went by, I hadn’t made anything with it yet, and then today I came home with a coconut! I was at work today, and really craving some coconut water. I was feeling tired, and the water in coconuts is a natural source of electrolytes. I could have bought a plastic bottle of cocowater off the shelf.. but it would have been $1 more than an actual coconut. So, I drilled a hole, stuck in a straw, drank my water, and brought the coconut home to play with!
At 11 oclock at night… I became inspired to combine the two ingredients and make this yummy soup!

1 large butternut squash diced, skin on (seeds out)
1 coconut’s meat
2 t vegetarian not chicken boullion
salt pepper
maple flavor (not syrup!)*sold in grocery stores near the vanilla extract
almond milk (optional)
To blend coconut meat you will need a heavy duty blender. I am not even sure if a food processor would do it, I haven’t tried. But it sure wouldn’t make it as silky smooth as my Vitamix. An alternative to the fresh coconut meat, would be to add a can of coconut milk. Don’t get the lite can, please. It isn’t worth it, you don’t want to skimp on creaminess and flavor, and coconut fat isn’t just good fat or great fat.. it’s the best fat! It has something to do with the fatty acids being medium chains… but I’m no scientist.. lets eat!
Put butternut squash chunks in a pot and cover with water, add the bouillion and bring to a boil. Cook until the squash is very tender. Add the butternut squash, some of the broth, and all the coconut meat (or milk) to a blender and puree until smooth. Put it back in the pot. Season with salt, pink peppercorns (or whatever you got, I added it for a pretty color contrast!) and maple flavor. Add more broth or milk until it reaches your desired consistency.

Turnip Soup Puree

If you like turnips, don’t eat enough of them, or just want to try them out, try this recipe!! I swear it’s a winner. I would totally serve it in a restaurant. In fact, I was inspired to make this soup by something I tasted at Broadway Brewery once. It’s so quick and easy.
When buying turnips the larger ones are usually a bit more bitter, so if you have the option, choose smaller ones. But no worries, roasting them will sweeten ‘em up.

2.5 – 3 lbs turnips
2 red potatoes (not the tiny ones)
1 small white onion
2-3 cloves garlic
½ t dry rosemary
½ t dry thyme
1 bay leaf
1/3 c dry white wine
milk (I used rice & almond)
2 T olive oil
¼ c Earth Balance (healthy butter alternative)
½ t vegetarian “not chicken” broth
The vegetarian “not chicken” broth I use, may sound strange to some of you, but it is great for veg recipes. Better Than Boullion is a brand of pastes that you add to water to create broths. You can see a picture of the container above, in the post for butternut squash soup. I have the mushroom, no-chicken, and vegetable on hand, but the company makes dozens of different kinds. I keep them in my fridge and I think it is a good investment for anyone interested in making more soups and sauces.
You may notice that I used 2 different vegan milks and oils. I am not doing this to make my recipes seem complicated, but to add more creaminess to the soup. Since I am not adding cream or butter, the blends I am adding will add more depth and richness to the soup.
(the plastic tupperware container in the middle is filled with frozen wine. It actually doesnt freeze all the way, but is like a slushy.. it is the perfect way for me to keep white wine, because I don't drink it!)

Peel turnips and potatoes, and chop into uniform pieces. Toss heavily in Earth Balance and Olive oil, salt & pepper. Cover and roast in a 400 degree oven until very soft. You should be able to easily pierce it with a utensil.
Meanwhile, dice the onion and sauté with the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. When soft, add the minced garlic and cook an additional minutes. Then turn off heat and immediately pour the white wine in the pan.
In a blender or food processor add the turnips, potatoes and onion mixture and puree. While pureeing add the milk(s) and boullion until it reaches your desired consistency.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Crack Sauce with Sunbutter Tofu Nuggets

My friend/coworker (fellow foodie) Helen just started a food blog! This sauce was on her blog, labeled Mango Chipotle Sauce, then in her explanation she said “ might as well call this crack sauce, because it is that good..” Ha! You can check her blog out at She is an amazing cook, and very passionate and knowledgeable.
I read her blog and found myself the next day in my kitchen making the crack sauce! It will definitely go into my regular rotation, I love it, Thanks Helen!
Helen’s Crack Sauce (Mango Chipotle)
2 large ripe mangoes
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1t adobo sauce
juice 1 lime
2t rice vinegar
1 T canola oil
salt & pepper

Shelly’s Crack Sauce Salad
1c cooked quinoa
pico de gallo
½ avocado
Sunbutter Tofu Nuggets
mango chipotle s (crack) sauce
Quinoa, a very yummy & healthy grain, comes in 3 colors red, black, & white. I used all three in this salad, because it is pretty & because I can. It is extremely easy to cook. 1c quinoa to 1 ½ c water. Rinse the quinoa (unless it is labeled "pre-rinsed")Put quinoa & water in a pot together, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and it is finished cooking when the quinoa soaks up all the water & its little spiral tail shoots out. The quinoa expands when it cooks, and just about quadruples in size. So I will cook some off, then just keep it in the fridge for meals later in the week.

Sunbutter Tofu Nuggets is a dish that I made at work, the day after serving the Sunbutter Pasta. We had so much left over, it seemed obvious to me to make some delicious tofu nuggets! Anna loooved this dish and asked for seconds.
All I did was buy an extra firm block of tofu & drain it. Then I put 1 c panko bread crumbs on a plate, seasoned it with salt, and my 3colors of sesame seeds.
1. Slice the tofu thin & pat it dry.
2. Dredge it in the sunbutter sauce
3. Put it straight into the panko, carefully coat it, and place it straight into a hot pan with oil.
4. Cook on both sides until brown & crisp.
I cheated and bought some pico de gallo off of Central Market’s salsa bar, but the recipe is easy:
Pico de Gallo
Dice the following ingredients small, then toss with lime juice, oil & salt
red onion

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sunbutter Pasta Sauce

What is Sunbutter? Like peanut butter, or almond butter, Sunbutter is a creamy spread made from sunflower seeds. People with allergies to nuts can enjoy Sunbutter. It is awwwesome.
This sauce came about because a customer at Central Market asked to taste the sunbutter. Afterwards.. we had a whole jar left over.. so I offered to make a sauce with it, type up a recipe, and do a cooking demo for the customers. Thats how my job works :) pretty cool.

Sunbutter Pasta Sauce
2/3c Sunbutter
1 T soy sauce
½ c water (if necessary)
1/3 c coconut milk
1 ½ T fresh ginger
1/8 c lime juice
1 T sesame oil
1 t red pepper flakes
2-3 cloves garlic/6-8 cloves roasted garlic

½ lb linguine
2 colored bell peppers
red cabbage
sesame seeds

Throw all ingredients, prior to linguine, into a blender and combine until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add the water. The problem with noodles + a thick nut butter sauce is that you’d practically have to cut it with a knife and fork, because of the way it’ll coat the noodles. To prevent this, thin the sauce, and toss the noodles liberally in sesame oil (or whatever you have.) Reserve any leftover sauce in a separate container, because if you store it on the noodles, you’ll have the same problem.. it’ll be like glue. And you can use it later as a marinade! (check out my post about sunbutter tofu nuggets!)
Anyway, this is really a beautiful dish. My coworkers were thrilled. The colors were awesome. I am lucky to have 3 colors of sesame seeds available to me, the traditional white, the black, and a green one coated in wasabi. So pretty!
I find these veggies go really well with a nutty sauce. The only items I cooked was the noodles (duh) and the bell peppers. I lightly sautéed them, not too soft, but still with a crunch. The cabbage and scallions were diced up and thrown in fresh.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just Bake a Banana!

Craving dessert, but don't have any cookies? Or maybe you don't think you deserve a cookie?? Just Bake a Banana! This has been a favorite some friends and I for several years. I can't remember why or when we came up with it.. but I think it was my first of 3years living on Anthony St. in Columbia at the time.You wont believe how good it is until you try it. It needs no topping.

Lay a piece of foil on the counter, put the banana in the center, and curl up the sides. Some juice is going to cook out, and you dont want it ending up on the bottom of your oven.

Bake at 350 until the peel is black and it starts to juice. It's ready! Carefully peel, then enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Unless you are on a low-carb diet, this dessert is completely guilt free!!
It is very soft, warm & flavorful. Success! It was my first bread pudding, and I pulled the recipe from one of my new fave cookbooks, Veganomicon. Now that I am confident in bread puddings and realize how simple they can be I will start trying out some of my own recipes, some savory, some sweet.
Veganomicon's Banana Choc Chip Bread Pudding
6c (1in cubed) stake bread (about 1 lb)
2 ¼ c rice/soy/almond milk
3 T arrowroot powder
½ c pure maple syrup
1t vanilla extract (I used ½ a fresh vanilla bean)
½ t ground cinnamon (I doubled it in my recipe)
¼ t ground nutmeg (doubled this too)
1 c chocolate chips
3 large, ripe bananas, sliced ½ in thick

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan. I couldn’t wait for stale bread, so I diced fresh bread, and baked it in the oven for 5 minutes. Perfection. Place bread in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2c milk with arrowroot powder until no lumps remain. Add the remaining milk, plus vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg & whisk to combine. Pour this mixture over the bread & stir to coat every piece.
Allow the bread to sit for 15min to soak up the liquid. Add more liquid if necessary, it should look mushy and they should be a little bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Fold in the chocolate chips & bananas, mashing the bananas slightly. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan, patting down to make an even top. Bake 30-35minutes until top if puffed, slightly browned & feels firm.
No sugar, no dairy, no eggs.. just yummy yummy bread pudding. We ate this every night for a week.

Then I made this variation:

peanut butter chips instead of chocolate
and a row of homemade jam in the middle (homemade jam is the same recipe as the "berry topping" in my post for mini-vegan cheesecakes)
& I stuck to her original measurements of cinnamon & nutmeg.
(Adding more worked really well for the choco chip bread, but I didn’t think it would go over as well with the jam.)
So it is like a peanut butter & jelly banana bread pudding. I recommend eating the chocolate chip bread pudding warm, but I think this one is better cold. I gave some to friends of mine, and they thought it was very yummy. yay!

Mini Vegan Cheesecakes

6 medium strawberries
1/4c blueberries
1 T meyer lemon juice
1 t agave nectar
1 t balsamic vinegar
8oz vegan cream cheese
¼ c sugar
1/8 c brown sugar
1 ½ T meyer lemon juice
½ vanilla bean (seeds)
plus Keebler 6pack of mini graham cracker pie crusts
Anna and I were in absolute HEAVEN eating these mini cheesecakes, and yes, they taste just like the real thing.. actually I thought they were better.
In a blender combine all the cheese cake ingredients and puree until smooth, or use hand held electric mixer. Fill the pie crusts and bake for 20minutes at 350. Allow to cool, then stick in the fridge.
The berry topping is astoundingly good. Just smelling it brings me more joy than anything in a jar possibly could. And it is so simple! Dice up the strawberries, and put them in a small pan or pot with lemon juice, balsamic and blueberries. Turn on the heat, and when it starts to bubble, turn it down, so that it is as low as it can go while still slightly simmering. Add the agave nectar, and continue to cook until the sauce reduces and thickens. Mm mm mm mm mmmmmmm

Vegetarian Muffuletta


Vegetarian Muffuletta
After I made/ate this sandwich I sent Anna the following text message: “I just made/ate a sandwich that will change my life forever. It is definitely going on the menu. In fact, I might just open up a trailer and JUST sell these sandwiches. I’ll never be the same.” She didn’t respond. She thinks I’m dramatic.
Every once in a while, I will make something really really crazy good and we’ll say “this needs to go on the menu” (of the future restaurant I do not yet own.) I will put this recipe, or a slight variation, ON the menu.
This was also an exciting day because it was the first time I used my World Cuisine Tri-blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer and it made perfect curly potato fries, some of which were a few feet long. jealous? I thought so. More spiral sliced veggies to come!

Big Soft Bun, preferably Italian Style (topped with sesame seeds)
Sliced (wide)Grilled Eggplant
Sliced (long) Grilled Zucchini
Seitan (thin sliced)
Italian Olive Salad (I use Boscoli, its awwwesome!)
Red Pepper Pesto
Shredded Asiago & Provolone cheeses
If you don’t have/want the Seitan, then just leave it off the sandwich. It’ll still be awwwesome.

So, the zucchini and eggplant don’t necessarily have to be grilled. You can broil ‘em or cook ‘em in a pan. Whatever you do, slice ‘em thick (like ¼ inch), because they are going to give the sandwich substance. Of course, before you cook the eggplant, slice it, salt it & let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant off, then pat it dry. Brush it with oil, then cook it.

Red Pepper Pesto
Pulse the following ingredients together in a food processor until creamy:
1 roasted red bell pepper
1/3 c kalamata olives
3T prepared basil pesto
2T olive oil
1/3 c breadcrumbs (preferably Italian style)

To build the sandwich:
Spread Pesto on Bottom bun
then stack seitan, eggplant & zucchini
Top with olives
Melt the cheeses on the top bun