Tag Archives: vegetarian

Ginger Pumpkin Chowder

8 Nov

gingerpumpkinchowder001If there is one thing that we all have no shortage of in the months between Halloween and Christmas, it’s probably a variety of leftover winter squashes.  Got an extra cup or two of cooked pumpkin left over from that pie?  Some acorn or butternut squash that didn’t fit in the pan? Tired of cloying sweets and heavy, creamy soups?  Feeling anxious about the upcoming months of rolling away from holiday tables, or trying to cook to accommodate a vegan or vegetarian at the table?  Here is a warming, satisfying meat and dairy-free soup that tastes like the harvest season, in a bowl.

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Feeling Saucy: Peanut Satay

23 Oct

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Peanut sauce is most commonly considered a feature of Southeast Asian cuisines, though it is also found in China and even the Middle East, in varying forms.  It can be cooked with chicken or shrimp, incorporated in noodle dishes, or used as a dipping sauce for vegetables or crackers.  Peanuts and peanut butter can serve as an excellent snack, due to their protein-rich, appetite-suppressing qualities, even in small amounts.  My favorite variation is a rich, creamy sauce with hints of lime and cilantro.  Though I’ve used standard peanut butter, there is no additional sugar or sweetener needed, and the coconut milk gives an excellent base to blend the flavors together.  If you choose to go with an all-natural peanut butter or grind your own peanuts instead, you will likely need to add a dab of brown sugar or syrup in some form, to finish the job.


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Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
4 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup water

Heat the coconut milk to a low simmer in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan (a Korean-style stone pot worked excellently, for me) over medium heat.  Add cilantro, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.  Mix well. Once the spice mixture has come back to a gentle simmer, turn the heat down to low and add peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, and lime.  Stir until the peanut butter has ‘melted’ into the liquid, but be careful not to burn.  You may need to turn the heat off for short periods, if your pan is too thin.  When you add the water, the mixture in the pan will turn whitish and creamy, but thicken once again fairly quickly.  Stir well to blend all ingredients together.

Refrigerate before serving as a dip, salad dressing, or sandwich spread.  Note that the chili oils will separate easily and float to the top, so stir (or shake) before using.  Satay sauce can also be used to stir fry with chicken or seafood, but ensure the meat is nearly cooked before adding it, because the peanut sauce may burn and stick if the heat is too high.

Makes about 2 and 1/2 cups of sauce.

Feeling Saucy: Spicy Remoulade

16 Oct

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For a busy October, I decided to feature a series of sauces, highlighting one each week.  While French in name, remoulade comes to us in the US by way of Cajun cuisine, frequently in the company of seafood, fried food, or po’boys, and with an accompanying dose of spicy heat.  This works great as a substitute for tartar sauce, a dressing for salad, or a dip for anything dippable.  Personally, I thought it made a great pairing with falafel, for lunch.

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Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup garlic chives, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco, Ligo, or Frank’s Red Hot)
2 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp horseradish
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes

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Mix all ingredients together.  Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving, to allow flavors to settle.

Enjoy!

Feeling Saucy: Mole Poblano

8 Oct

Growing up in the agricultural belt of the Pacific Northwest, the sheer scope and popularity of Mexican cuisine was so pervasive that it wasn’t until I moved to New York for school that I realized there were places where people actually believed Taco Bell qualified as food, let alone ‘Mexican’ food.  As a child, I didn’t take advantage of this in the same way I might, now–I couldn’t tolerate the taste of cilantro, picked at things I couldn’t recognize, and generally stuck to beef burritos and enchiladas without fail.  Nevertheless, my mother used to faithfully order chicken mole whenever it was available, while I turned up my nose and couldn’t fathom eating any sauce so unconventional.  Years later, I found myself craving it now and then, with only hazy memories of the dish to go on, and in Korea, I’m sure you can imagine it became even harder to procure.

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Mole sauce (pronounced ‘mol-LEH’), in its native Mexico, refers to a wide range of thick, richly-flavored sauces, all of which are based upon varying blends of chili peppers thrown together with nuts and other spices.  Legend has it that mole was invented more or less by accident, when a group of poor nuns found that an important visitor would be arriving, and needed something to feed him.  Chili peppers, day-old bread, nuts, spices, and a little chocolate were sacrificed to the cause, along with an old turkey, and a quintessential fusion dish was born.  Ingredients indigenous to Mexico, such as chili pepper, tomatoes, squash seeds, and chocolate may be cooked alongside Mediterranean almonds and raisins, African sesame, and even Asian spices such as anise and cinnamon.  Despite being based on dried pepper, the sauce is not hot-spicy, but features a rich, slow depth of taste that can be disconcerting to those used to milder flavors.

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Herbed Spinach Pasta Salad

2 Jun

herbedspinachpastasalad001Today, I bought a new ‘spice rack’.  There’s been a big agricultural fair at City Hall plaza, near my new house, these past few days, and I keep prowling past all the herbs and plant pots for sale with wishful eyes.  This one, though, was a winner.  It doesn’t take up much horizontal space, it’s stable on its base (for a minimum of cat-related damages), and it’s terribly easy to angle around each segment as needed.  I grabbed the stand, then promptly bought basil, rosemary, and golden lemon thyme to occupy it in my sunny window.  I figure the plants are a lot cheaper than buying the fresh herbs at the grocery store, only to have half of them spoil before I can use them due to getting too cold or too wet or too dry in the fridge or on the way home.  My fridge, by the way, is a beast at freezing things. I haven’t yet quite figured out how to turn the thermostat in there up a bit so it stops icing my water and destroying my green produce.

Anyway, with all these fresh herbs on hand, I decided it was time to make one of my old standby recipes again, a super easy pasta salad.

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Strawberry Banana Cream Cheese Microwave Muffins

21 Apr

strawberrybananamuffins001My best purchase, recently, has been a set of silicone muffin-cups.  They’re safe for microwave use as well as oven use, and the Rum Double Chocolate Microwave Brownies come out like a dream, with them. Using them is much, much more convenient than using a mug, too.  Anyway, I’ve been doing more experimentation with microwave ‘baking’, using them.  In one round, I made the brownie recipe but added about half a cup of chopped kumquat I had left over from the salsa, and let me tell you, dark chocolate, coconut rum, and kumquats? Great pairing.  In the next, I could no longer find kumquats in my neighborhood, so bought a carton of strawberries instead, and made a rum-less version to use up some milk chocolate chips I wanted to get rid of.  That variation was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but they seemed to go over well at work.

Anyway, all of this left me with most of a carton of strawberries to use up before they went bad, and then someone gave me a couple of bananas, which I don’t usually eat on their own.  I decided to kill two birds with one stone and whip up something using both fruits.  Google, as usual, led me to a helpful recipe, and I figured I might as well discover whether an oven-baking recipe would work in the microwave as well.

(Spoiler alert: It did.)

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Kumquat Salsa

3 Apr

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So I’ve been playing more with photography, lately.  The other day, I happened to pass a fruit stall on the street and saw these (okay, I’m going to be stereotypical and say adorable) little citrus fruits heaped in baskets for less than $3. I honestly wasn’t what they were, at first.  I came home and googled about my confusion, and it turned out they were in fact kumquats, which I had never seen before that I could recall.  The obvious solution? Buy some the next morning. They were tiny and adorable, okay.

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