Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tom Kha Soup

This is my all time favorite soup, and it just got more amazing. I usually make it with cauliflower, mushrooms and tomatoes. This time I used three kinds of mushrooms: oyster, enoki and beech mushrooms. I also added a little baby bok choy and japanese noodles that I had on hand. I used to have a kaffir lime tree in my house just for the purpose of making this soup. However, after years of suffering in West Virginia, I gave it to my mom to take home to Texas. Now I just use kaffir leaf powder that I bought online and sprinkle it on top. That's the green powder you seen on the final product picture.

Here is the general recipe that I use for my tom kha soup.

Tom Kha Soup (AKA the best soup in the world!)
(serves 4)

1/2 cup coconut milk
3 cups vegetable stock
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger root, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves
4 small chilies, crushed or chopped
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 cup cauliflower (or any vegetables you like, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tomatoes are nice in this soup
2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the vegetable stock with lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, soy sauce, chilies, sugar, and stock. Simmer with the lid on for ten minutes then strain the debris from the broth by placing a strainer in a bowl. Return soup base to pot. Add vegetables. Simmer vegetables until al dente. Add the coconut milk and heat up (do not boil rapidly or it may break the coconut milk into particles). Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro (and kaffir leaf powder if you are using it).

*If you don’t have access to kaffir lime leaves you can use other citrus leaves like lemon or lime zest. If you are using zest make sure not to get any of the white pith and do not add it until two minutes before you are going to strain the soup. The zest will make your soup too bitter if you cook it for too long.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fakin' Bacon

Those of you who know me on Facebook might already know this, but I have never had a BLT. This is mostly because I never cared for the "B." This proves Anthony Bourdain wrong ("Everyone likes bacon. Even vegetarians like bacon.") Pig meat always gave me a headache, so avoided it, which could be difficult with an Appalachian mommy. However, in the last six months I have been experimenting with making a vegetarian version of the classic BLT. Something about crisp lettuce, juicy ripe tomato and good bread just seemed so refreshing to me. I have tried disgusting commercially available faux bacon strips. I have made tempeh bacon. I even cut eggplant into thin strips and then battered and fried it. That was probably the closest until a magical idea popped into my head: smoked cheese. It has the fat. It has the smoke. My original idea was to pan fry the cheese into one of those little crisps that you sometimes get on salads, usually made out of Parmesan. However, I decided to just cut it into strips to mimic the look of bacon. Also in reality it did not melt down but still got crispy and chewy. As Eric put it "The closest thing to bacon that I've ever had." 
F. L. T (Facon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich)
serves 2

1 block smoked cheese (I used Gruyere)
1 large tomato, sliced
2 romaine lettuce leaves (because iceberg is for chumps)
4 slices sourdough (or your favorite white bread)
mayonnaise, to taste
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a pan with parchment paper. Slice the cheese or grate and place in mounds. Cook until crisp and brown, approximately 20 minutes for the hard Gruyere). In the mean time you can slice you tomato and toast your bread. I like mine only lightly toasted for this sandwich. When the cheese is finished you can assemble your sandwich by slathering mayonnaise (or vegan mayo. I am fine with just low fat mayo). Then salt and pepper the mayo. Stack your tomato, cheese and lettuce.  

That puppy wants some facon!

Next time I may try slicing firm tofu and marinating in liquid smoke then deep frying. I may even add an avocado. Overall, I would say big success in the world of fake bacon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beer Battered Green Bean Fries

I like green bean fries, so here goes!

Beer Battered Green Bean Fries with Avocado Ranch Sauce
Serves 4 (probably)

1 lb fresh green beans
whole wheat flour
1/2 bottle of cold beer
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Oil for frying 
Salt to taste

1 Avocado
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1 pickled jalapeno (if desired)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Bring a pot of water to boil and preheat oil in a pan over medium. In the meantime, puree the avocado, ranch, jalapeno, and lemon juice in food processor or with immersion blender. Place it in the refrigerator. When the water is boiling, blanch the green beans for a few minutes making sure they are still crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place them on a paper towel and pat dry. 

Then set up a batter station. Place a handful of four in a shallow wide bowl. Then put approximately 3/4-1 cup of flour in a large mixing bowl and blend the baking powder. stir in enough beer for the mixture to be a really thin batter, fairly soupy. Toss green beans in the flour in batches and then coat in beer batter. Remove them individually but quickly from the batter and place in hot oil. Cook til golden brown, approximately 2 minutes. Salt while they are still hot. Serve with dipping sauce. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Deviled Eggs for Easter

Does anyone else find it weird that it is traditional to make something called "deviled eggs" for Easter? Oh well. After dyeing Easter eggs, that is exactly what I did. This post will be more pictures than words. 
Easter Devils Two Ways
makes 24

1 dozen eggs
mayonnaise (I prefer light)
Dijon mustard, about 2 tablespoons
4 green onions, chopped greens and whites
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon curry powder (or to taste)
salt to taste

Hard boil the eggs by placing in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil, turn off heat and cover. Let sit for 9 minutes. Drain the water and fill the pan with cool water and a few ice cubes. Peel eggs and cut in half. Gently scoop out the yolks. Add about 1/3-1/2 as much mayo as yolks in volume. Add all of the other ingredients, except curry powder. I mash mine with an avocado masher but you can use a fork. I filled half of my eggs with this basic mixture and garnished the top with paprika and dried dill. I added curry to the other half of the egg mixture and garnished with some leftover green onion.