Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hearts of Palm and Mushroom Paella

(serves 6)

2 cups paella rice
5 cups not-chicken or other veggie stock
1/2 teaspoon of saffron

1/2 cup olive oil
10 oz package of assorted mushrooms
1 medium white onion
1 red bell pepper
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 large tomatoes or one small container of cherry tomatoes, diced
      (I had yellow cherry tomatoes but also canned tomatoes are often used in paella)
14 oz can of artichokes in brine, quartered and drained
half of a can of hearts of palm in brine, cut into rings
for garnish: olives (I used castelvetrano olives because they are bright, meaty and delicious)
     chopped cilantro or parsley, paprika, lemon wedges, olive oil for drizzling

Start by heating up the stock with the saffron. Then heat the olive oil in a large, wide, flat-bottom pan over medium to medium-high heat. Cool the mushrooms on both sides until nice and brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove them with a spoon and set aside. Place a little bit more olive oil in the pan if you removed a lot with the mushrooms. Cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the diced red bell pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, artichokes and tomatoes. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Then add the rice and stir until the rice is covered in the oil and veggie mixture. Slowly pour in the broth until it is evenly distributed. From this point on, DO NOT STIR! Cook over med/med-low heat for 10 minutes. Then place the hearts of palm segments and mushrooms evenly over the top of the pan. Cook for another 20 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. You may need to adjust your heat so that it does not evaporate the broth too quickly. 
REMEMBER: Resist the urge to stir!
Serve topped with olives, herbs, paprika, lemon and olive oil. 
*Onion tips: Minimize tears by popping the onion the the freezer for 5 minutes before chopping. See captions for dicing tips. 
Dice an onion easily by slicing at an angles meeting in the center
Then turn your onion and slice in straight lines. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mapo Tofu (Veggie Style)

I have never had real mapo tofu, just like I have never had real Pho. That doesn't keep me from trying to make it awesome vegetarian style. Eric said he would like more texture in it. Next time I will add chopped water chestnuts.

1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1 cup (fake) chicken stock (or veggie stock)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1 cup meat crumble substitute
1 leek, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch of ginger, grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 block of tofu (firmness of your choice, traditionally it is soft but I used firm)
scallions for garnish, sliced

Heat oil over medium. Brown the leek and meet crumble. Cube the tofu in 1/2 inch cubes and coat with cornstarch. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Allow this to become fragrant (about 30 seconds to a minute). Add the Not-chicken stock, soy sauce, black bean sauce. Reduce this down to half. Then add the tofu and reduce it down until it reaches desired consistency.

Also I added some black pepper (to taste) because I did not have any Sichuan pepper.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Frozen Kiwi Margaritas

Quick post today. My brunch plans did not work out how I planned, so I will only post the drink. I started taking a liking to making frozen margaritas out of whole fruit that has been frozen starting with watermelon. I have a hard time using up fruit before it goes bad. I usually end up freezing it. At any given time, you are likely to find a frozen banana in my fridge. Those are good to just snack on or make smoothies/coffee drinks with. 

They should look like this when done. 
The fun part of this recipe is how to get the kiwi out of the furry little peel. Simply cut the kiwi in half (like if it was a globe you are going to cut it across the equator). Now take a large spoon and slip it around the edge of the peel. The kiwi should come right out. There is a little juice but it is far less messy and less wasteful than peeling a kiwi. At this point i froze the kiwi halves. 

Frozen Kiwi Margaritas
makes 2 large or 4 small ones 

4 kiwis, halved and peeled and frozen as above
4 ounces of tequila 
2 ounces of triple sec
2-4 ounces of lime juice (to taste) 
about 8 ice cubes

Blend it all up in a blender until smooth!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vegetarian Ceviche

Vegetarian Ceviche That Looks Not-So-Vegetarian
Serves 4

1 can hearts of palm 
1 green bell pepper 
1/2 red onion
1-2 jalapeƱos
2 tomatoes
1 cloves garlic
1/2 small red onion
1 avocado 

handful of cilantro 
1-2 limes
sometimes i also add green bell pepper and cucumber
Salt to taste

Slice hearts of palm into 1/4 inch circles. Pop the centers out so they resemble octopus rings. Retain the centers for the ceviche. Chop all other ingredients. Mix together gently. Squeeze lime. Serve in chilled margarita glasses. Salt to taste. 

*Remember that citrus heightens the flavor of salt, so you will not need as much.

**Tip for picking an avocado: Pick an avocado that is not overly ripe. It should give a little in your hand but when you pull out the stem it should still be green. If it is brown or black it is already bad. If you get an under-ripe avocado you can simply leave it on the counter to ripen or put it in a brown paper bag on the counter to speed up the process.

***To chop: Cut the avocado in half vertically. Separate the halves. To remove the seed gently whack the blade of your knife into the seed and twist. You will need a large knife to do this. If the seed does not remove easily then your avocado was not ripe. The skin should also peel away easily. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

You asked Pho it!

Ok, technically no one asked for it except me. I just enjoy a little pun. I went to Jungle Jim's huge international food market this past weekend and felt inspired. I've made pho a bunch and I've eaten my fair share of vegetarian pho at restaurants. Usually (actually almost always) the restaurant ones disappoint me greatly.  Eric even told me that my pho is much more flavorful than the meaty versions he's had, so I thought I would share. 

Vegetarian Faux Pho

1 medium onion
an inch and a half of ginger (I didn't have ginger so I used galangal root this time)
1 stick of cinnamon
5 whole cloves
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
1-2 star anise
2 cubes of Not-beef bouillon (mushroom or other veggie stock would work)
a bunch of thin rice noodles
a handful of mung bean sprouts
thai chilis to taste (or serrano or other hot peppers)
half a block of tofu cut into small cubes
lime juice to taste
soy sauce to taste
cilantro for garnish
any other veggies you have around and want in the soup (I used a baby bok choy, bamboo shoots, enoki and shitake mushrooms this time)

Brown the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil. Place all of the spices in and let them get aromatic. Then put 1.5 liters (approximately 6 cups) of water in. Add bouillon and allow to come to a boil. Then turn down the heat cover and allow the mixture to simmer. The longer it goes, the more flavorful the broth. Now at this point you can strain the mixture or alternatively just pick out the cinnamon etc. or eat around it. Then return the broth to your pan. Add the noodles and bring them to a boil. Add whatever other vegetables you like. At the very end add your lime juice, soy sauce, cilantro and mung beans. Or you can serve these things on the side and let 
everyone do their own to taste.