Double Onion & Chickpea Tagine
Finally home and (mostly) recovered from the jet lag – just in time for another challenge from r/52weeksofcooking. This week onions are the secret ingredients, which are something I use in most of my recipes in one form or another. For awhile I debated doing a French Onion Soup Sandwich before remembering a tagine recipe in one of my cookbooks that called for onions cooked two ways. After some vegetarian doctoring to the recipe, swapping chickpeas for the lamb and doubling the spinach, it wound up being a rather simple dish filled with every day ingredients making it perfect for crazy summer nights. While I cooked mine in a tagine it could also be prepared in a wok or a deep saucepan, either way make sure the dish has a tight fitting lid.
I topped mine with some So Delicious Greek Yogurt (yes I’m an addict – but that’s okay) along with a sprig of fresh cilantro while Joe went for regular sour cream and fresh mint. I also made up some garlic couscous to help soak up all the juices, can’t let anything go to waste!
When one is a vegetarian blogger seafood challenges require thinking a little outside the box. After all what most people picture when they hear seafood is NOT vegetarian and while at one point I did include those recipes I don’t really make that anymore. So with /r/52weeksofcooking’s seafood challenge I really had two options: fake seafood or using a sea-based vegetable. I debated recreating Richard Blais’s banana scallops but while those are really outside the box they aren’t exactly challenging so I decided to keep looking. Then while reading a Washington Post article I saw a recipe for vegan sushi and instantly latched on to giving sushi a try. I liked the idea of using mushrooms for one of the fillings, which is what WP had listed, but switching the suggested citrus soy sauce for a sesame ginger sauce. For the other filling I decided to use sweet potatoes, which are right there with eggplant on my must have in kitchen at all times list. I decided to make a garlic ginger soy sauce for the sweet potatoes which resulted in a very crowded stove top.
I did cheat a little in using Alton Brown’s sushi rice recipe, figuring I had enough work figuring out the right sauce to vegetable ratio. For rolling the sushi I watched a few videos to get the idea and used plastic wrap to make up for my lack of a mat. I served the sushi with some siracha sauce since fresh wasabi is not an easy to locate ingredient at my local market, and also skipped the soy sauce. I was surprised in how easy these were to roll, even without a bamboo mat!
Braised Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce
Eggplant is a standard ingredient in my house, it can be cooked in so many ways and essentially goes with everything. However I tend to always prep it the same way – pressed – and cook it one of two ways: stir fry or baked. I’ve branched out once before with poached eggplant and wanted to do that again, even it meant having pasta on hand just in case. So I searched the internet, and my cookbooks, and decided to give braised eggplant a whirl after seeing claims of a softer more flavorful dish. It’s closer to how eggplant is cooked in most Oriental restaurants and I liked the idea of the eggplant absorbing more sauce, and with that more flavor. This cooking method also meant I needed to salt my eggplant, instead of pressing it, to insure it was as “dry” as possible for maximum sauce.
Every now and then I tend to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to blog challenges, and this week’s r/52weeksofcooking is a prime example. The theme this week was Indian which is a cuisine I’m familiar with and have done a few times in the past. However I wanted to try something different so instead of my standard tomato based curry I decided to attempt a yogurt based dish, and then go the extra step in making it vegan. I researched a variety of different dishes before finally deciding on Navratan Korma which translates to Nine Gems Curry. For my nine gems I settled on: peas, green beans, Indian Eggplant, green bell pepper, tofu (or paneer), Indian red chilies, shallots, cashews, and carrots. I debated about using cauliflower or broccoli but it’s still too early in the season for them and couldn’t find any at the local market. Needless to say this is a very (very!!!) prep-heavy dish with lots of cleaning and cutting.
I started prep work with the tofu in order to give it time to press before moving on to the eggplant, for similar reasons, and then all the remaining vegetables. To figure out the right spices I looked at a variety of online recipes before finally settling on the below combination. For a more traditional dish use paneer in place of tofu, just keep it mind it will cook a lot faster than tofu and might require additional vegetable oil in order to brown.
I served the cashews only on top of mine since I couldn’t find a bag that was marked in such a way to indicate it was 100% peanut free. This dish might have taken a while to get started but it’s incredibly quick to come together and delicious – making all the cutting worth it! I also have a feeling this dish would work well in a slow cooker and look forward to testing that theory shortly.
Note: I’m submitting this to the So Delicious Dairy Free Recipe Contest
Time for the April installment of the Secret Recipe Club!!!! This month I was assigned the incredible Ilona’s Kitchen blog which is packed to the brim with delicious treats – both sweet and savory! As always I had a hard time finding the perfect recipe, something that would be different than the normal and showcase the delicious recipes on her blog. After much debate I decided to go with one of her two (!!!) recipes for Sloppy Joe’s, figuring if they were such a hit with her munchkin they would also go over well with my husband. In honor of the vegan twist on this recipe I’m renaming them Sloppy Joey’s, and my Joey seems to have no issue sharing his name with this incredible dinner! Other than the vegan twist most of the recipe is as you will find it on Ilona’s Kitchen, as long as your overlook my avoidance of celery in this dish in favor of more peppers.
These came together in record time, the only trick was finding a vegetarian friendly Worcestershire sauce. In the end I wound up making my own using this guide from the incredible Martha Stewart. I have to say this homemade version was far better than any I had before, and used the extra sauce as a topping for the mashed potatoes that I served with my Sloppy Joey’s . Thanks Ilona’s Kitchen for an incredible dinner idea!
“I have to do a fusion dish this week for /r/52weeks of cooking. What should I do?”
“How about Mexican Thai?!?!”
“WTF is Mexican Thai??”
“I dunno, that’s for you to figure out”
So with that conversation I set out to figure out what Mexican Thai would be. Due to a crazy schedule I decided to go with a breakfast dish, figuring I would have plenty of time on Saturday morning to make the dish and get it posted. Well I was right regarding at least one of those things, but sometimes that happens. After much googling and searching in recipe books I decided that the best Mexican/Texan dish to cross with Thai cuisine was a breakfast dish known as migas. Similar to chilaquies, migas features fresh corn chips along with eggs, tomatoes, and seasonings. Since I was going the Thai route I also looked at various egg curries, to get an idea of what flavor profiles would work best for what I was looking to do. In order to go the extra mile I also made my own chips using some corn tortillas that were getting close to the end of their life.
This breakfast was a HUGE hit and extremely filling. The only down side was in the chip making process where I didn’t read the lines on the inside of my fryer correctly and wasn’t able to use the basket. Luckily gently dropping them in and fishing them out with a metal spatula worked just fine! To top it off I served Joe a Banana Lassi, which went perfectly with the heat of the dish. I left off the nuts and added 1/4 tsp of amchur powder to the dish as a nod to the more popular mango lassi. Perfection!
Chili Garlic Bok Choy with Tofu
An excuse to make spicy food?!?!? Sign me up! I was thrilled when I saw the theme this week for /52week was spicy, as it gave me an excuse to experiment with all my chili pastes. I decided to keep the other ingredients rather basic, since the point of the dish was the sauce and not the proteins. With some of the sauces I blended all of the liquids in advance and then stirred them in, however this time I decided to add things in layers in order to have more control over the final result. With my new chili garlic paste I have three different chili based pastes, and every time I cook with them I’m amazed with how complex and different they taste.
Sesame Oil has also become my new bff, since it gives a nutty flavor to dishes without the risks of nuts. I’m also thrilled that so far I’ve been able to keep to my goal of doing as many of the 52week challenges vegan as possible. While I don’t see myself going vegan, pending vegan Ritter Sports bars, I love pushing myself outside of my normal cooking comfort zone.