Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ma-Po Tofu (Tofu in Black Bean and Chilli Sauce)



From Celia Brooks Brown's cookbook, World Vegetarian Classics:

Ma-Po Tofu
(Tofu in Black Bean and Chili Sauce)
Serves approximately 4

1 small handful sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 pound firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large green bell pepper, chopped into bite-size chunks
1 large fresh red chili, deseeded and sliced (adjust amount according to heat preference)
2 large garlic cloves, minced or sliced
1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the sauce:

2 teaspoons black bean sauce

3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry1 teaspoon sugar

Place the shiitake mushrooms in a small bowl. Pour the cup of boiling water over the mushrooms and let stand for about 5 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the water, and set them aside.
Stir the cornflour into the reserved water and set that aside.

Place all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the mushroom, green pepper, chilli, and garlic to the skillet and cook until the garlic becomes soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sauce mixture.

Next, stir in the reserved water (with cornstarch). Continue cooking until the sauce thickens and becomes bubbly. Add the tofu cubes and stir until they are warmed through.
Serve with rice.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chinese-Style Pickled Cucumbers



This dish is easy to prepare and makes a great side dish for an Asian entree.
Chinese-Style Pickled Cucumbers

5 to 6 Kirby cucumbers
Salt for tossing cucumbers
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar
1 medium-size carrot, thinly sliced (using a vegetable peeler)
Sesame seeds, for garnishing (optional)
Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into quarters and then into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Place the cucumbers in a colander, toss them in some salt, and let stand for about 20-30 minutes.

Thoroughly rinse the cucumbers under cold tap water and pat dry with a towel. Place the cucumbers and carrots in a bowl.

Heat the sesame oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper flakes and cook until they start to deepen in color. Take the skillet off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Pour this mixture over the cucumbers and carrots and toss. Add the chili-infused oil to the bowl of cucumbers and carrots and toss. Let stand for about 1 hour, until cooled. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sandwich: Grilled Gruyere with Green-Olive Tapenade



This recipe for grilled gruyere with green-olive tapenade comes from an old issue of Metropolitan Home magazine. It was included in an article entitled "The Great American Sandwich." The article, including recipe, can be found here.

I made this sandwich last weekend. I pretty much followed the recipe as written. I did find, though, that melting the gruyere just on the grill took much longer than the time specified. As a result, I ended up burning the ciabatta rolls. I solved this problem by lightly melting the cheese on the top and bottom half of each roll in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, assembling the sandwiches as shown in the photo above, and then grilling the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes per side.

This was so delicious.

Grilled Gruyere with Green-Olive Tapenade
Makes 4 sandwiches

For the green-olive tapenade:

2 cups green olives, pitted
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 ciabatta rolls, approximately 3 inches by 3 inches
1/2 pound gruyere cheese, cut into 12 slices (approximately 1/8-inch-thick each)

Combine all of the tapenade ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture becomes spreadable, but not smooth.

Add 1 slice of cheese to the bottom half of each ciabatta roll. Add 2 slices of cheese to each top half. Place each top and bottom face-up in the microwave and heat for 20-30 seconds, until the cheese begins to melt. Assemble the sandwiches by layering approximately 2 tablespoons of the green-olive tapenade between the top and bottom half of each roll, as shown in the photo above. Place the sandwiches on a hot grill, weighing them down with another heavy skillet. Grill for about 2-3 minutes on each side until heated through, and serve.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baked Eggs with Tomato Sauce, Spinach and Mascarpone



The following recipe (slightly modified) comes from an old issue of Metropolitan Home Magazine. The recipe, as printed in Met Home, can still be found online. I've been wanting to try this recipe for the longest time. What I loved about this dish was that it was ridiculously simple and fairly inexpensive to make. And it tasted really, really delicious!

I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry, except the mascarpone. This dish only took about 25 minutes to prepare, which, for me, makes it an ideal weekday meal .


The following recipe will serve three using 8 1/2-inch by 5-inch gratin dishes.
Baked Eggs with Tomato Sauce, Spinach and Mascarpone
Serves 3


1 large onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, with juices reserved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces frozen spinach leaves
6 eggs
1/2 cup mascarpone Salt and freshly ground pepper
Baguette, sliced


Place rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Place the frozen spinach in a bowl and cover with very warm tap water. Replace water at least once to thoroughly thaw out.


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juices and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.


Divide the tomato sauce among three gratin dishes. Using a spoon, make two indentations in the sauce in each dish and crack and an egg into each indentation. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove
the spinach from the bowl and squeeze out the water. Scatter the spinach leaves around the eggs in each dish. Place the dishes in the oven. Bake the eggs until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes.

Remove the gratin dishes from the oven, spoon dollops of mascarpone cheese around the eggs and spinach and serve with slices of baguette.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Southwestern Bean Cakes



The weather was so hot outside last Sunday that I really wanted something light and simple. The solution was found in a cookbook I received two year ago for Christmas from my sister entitled, "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen," by Jack Bishop.

I grabbed the book and just started flipping through it when I came across a recipe for Southwestern Bean Bakes.

In a nutshell, these were easy to make. They also tasted surprisingly very flavorful, given the minimal number of ingredients required. 


At the author's suggestion, I served these bean cakes alongside a simple baby spinach salad lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and kosher salt.

Southwestern Bean Cakes

Makes approximately 7-8 cakes

  • 2 15-oz cans cannelleni beans, rinsed and thoroughly drained
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (add more for extra heat)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup (at least) cornmeal or polenta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Add the cannellini beans, vegetable broth, and lime juice in a large bowl. Mash the beans using a potato masher.
Next, stir in the cilantro, pepper, and chili powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1/4 cup of cornmeal. Continue stirring in more cornmeal in small amounts until you can form the mixture into 3-inch cakes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the bean cakes and cook until browned, approximately 4 minutes per side. (Add more oil to the pan if necessary.) Serve immediately.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cold Somen Noodles With Vegan Dipping Sauce



Seriously, if there is one dish I could probably eat daily, it's this one:
Vegan Dipping Sauce for Cold Somen or Soba Noodles

3 1/4 cups boiling water
3-inch piece of kombu

1/2 cup (small handful) sliced dried shitake mushrooms

1/2 soy sauce
1/4 mirin


In a small saucepan, bring 3 1/4 cups of water to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat, add the kombu and dried mushroom (see photo below) and set aside for 10-15 minutes.


Add the soy sauce and mirin to the pot and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking on low heat to boil off the alcohol (in the mirin). Remove the pot from the heat, strain the liquid into another container (e.g., a large pyrex measuring cup), and discard the kelp and mushrooms. Set aside until it is cool enough to be placed in the refrigerator, and chill.
Cook the somen noodles according the directions on the package. Somen noodles cook very fast in boiling water, from 3-5 minutes, so be sure to keep a close eye on them.

Drain and rise the somen noodles thoroughly in cold tap water. Place the somen noodles on individual plates. Serve with a small bowl of the chilled dipping sauce and a small plate of scallions and wasabi paste. When ready to eat, add the scallions and stir in some of the wasabi paste into the dipping sauce and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Portobello Tacos with Green Salsa



The cover of the latest issue of Vegetarian Times magazine promised "32 fresh & easy recipes under 350 calories." On Sunday, I chose to make the portobello tacos that were featured in the magazine, mainly because the ingredients were inexpensive. Also, I wanted to make a meal that didn't have to be served piping hot, because the weather outside was very warm that day.

Note: although the VT recipe calls for 6 6-inch corn tortillas, I found that the recipe, as written, will make more than 10 tacos. I used 5 portobello mushroom caps and was able to assemble 11 tacos. Lastly, I served these tacos with yellow rice.

Grilled Portobello Tacos with Salsa Verde
Makes approximately 12 tacos

  • 1/3 cups canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 large portobello caps
  • 12 6-inch soft corn tortillas (I used flour tortillas)
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded, and diced
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • Sour cream
Salsa Verde
  • 1 28 oz can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 large green bell pepper or poblano chile, roughly chopped (I used a green bell)
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro (leaves only)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tsp organic sugar or agave nectar (I omitted this ingredient)
  • 1 1/4 tsp canola oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat your grill or grill pan to high heat.

For the salsa verde, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Next, whisk together 1/3 cup of canola oil and the balsamic vinegar. Brush this marinade over the portobello caps. Set the caps on the grill and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side until they soften slightly. Remove the caps from the grill and set them aside. The caps will continue to cook. When the caps become cool enough to handle, slice them into strips.

To assemble the tacos, lightly warm the tortillas on a grill for about 15 seconds per side. Fill each tortilla with the sliced mushrooms (approximately 2 slices), avocado (approximately 1 slice), salsa verde, cabbage, tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Arborio Rice Pudding



Dave Lieberman's rice pudding:

Arborio Rice Pudding
Serves approximately 4

1 cup water
Pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup arborio rice
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar or Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Add the first three ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the rice and reduce to heat to low. Continue cooking the rice until it has absorbed most of the liquid but is still al dente, about 10-15 minutes.

In another saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, vanilla and a couple of dashes of cinnamon to a simmer. Add the cooked rice. Continue cooking the rice over low-medium heat until it has absorbed most of the milk and the mixture starts to thicken and become creamy, about 10-15 minutes.

Pour the contents of the saucepan in a large bowl or baking dish. Cool to room temperature. Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon over the top. Cover and place in the refrigerator and chill for at least three hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tempeh Bolognese



Recently, though, I came across this Vegetarian Times recipe for a tempeh bolognese. Admittedly, I prefer the taste of Giada DeLaurentis' vegetable bolognese over the tempeh bolognese. However, the tempeh bolognese is especially good if you want something that is seriously protein-packed.

Tempeh Bolognese Serves approximately 6

1 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled (by hand)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth or red wine
1/2 cup chopped flat fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the crumbled tempeh and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, dried herbs, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomato paste and broth/wine. Continue cooking for another five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer over low-medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley and basil, and serve over pasta.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Split Pea Soup In Under 30 Minutes



Making split pea soup can be time consuming. Normally, you would be required to either soak the split peas overnight or cook the split peas for about 1 1/2 to 3 hours before pureeing them in a blender.
A pressure cooker, on the other hand, absolutely pulverizes the living $&%# out of dried split peas in about 12-15 minutes. No soaking required. No blender required. With a pressure cooker, you can make split pea soup for dinner on a weekday after coming home from work and not have to serve it at 9 p.m.

Split Pea SoupServes approximately 4-6

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 cups green split peas
8 cups vegetable broth (plus an additional 2 cups broth or water to thin out soup, if necessary)
1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt, to taste
Sour cream (optional)


Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the next five ingredients listed above. Stir, cover, lock the lid in place, and increase the heat until high pressure has been attained. Lower the heat enough (usually low-medium) to maintain that pressure for an additional 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes has elapsed, turn off the heat and let the pressure begin to fall naturally. (If you have an electric stove, as I do, take the pot off the hot burner.) After 10 minutes has elapsed, open the valve to release any remaining pressure, if necessary.

If the consistency of the soup is too thick, thin it out with some water or additional vegetable broth. Stir in the thyme and salt. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy Greek Style Salad



When I'm cooking, I have a tendency to focus on the main dish. For a side dish, I frequently find myself throwing together a mixed salad with bagged greens, tomatoes and avocados, which I toss in a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's a mindless effort.

Last night, I made this simple Greek style side salad. I love cucumbers, and this was nice change-up from the usual. And I wrapped the leftovers in lavash bread to have for lunch this afternoon.

Greek Style Salad
Serves approximately 4

3 small tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, cored, and chopped
20 pitted kalamata olives
6 ounces feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

For the dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables, olives and cheese with the dressing and serve.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Easy Tiramisu



While I'm not really a dessert person, I do love tiramisu. And it's so simple to make, as demonstrated below. To knock down the calories somewhat, I used Splenda instead of sugar.

Ideally, this tiramisu should be refrigerated overnight before serving to allow the egg/mascarpone mixture, which is layered between the coffee-soaked cookies, to set.

Tiramisu
Serves 10-12

  • 40 lady fingers
  • 3 cups strongly brewed espresso coffee, cooled
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 5 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 16 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
Add the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of coffee, Splenda and cognac to a large bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat another 3-5 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.

Take each lady finger, dip one side into the remaining coffee, and layer on the bottom of a 9-inch-by-12-inch baking dish.
Spread half of the egg/mascarpone mixture over the lady fingers. Dust with a layer of cocoa powder. Repeat with the remaining lady fingers and the egg/mascarpone mixture. Dust with a final layer of cocoa powder.
Cover the baking dish with plastic or foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.