Welcome to the FINAL Secret Recipe Club for 2014! I can’t believe this year is almost over – it has flown by way faster than I thought possible. While the year hasn’t been the best at times, I’ve come out of it stronger – or at least more determined than ever to succeed. Enough about that, time to focus on the recipe! This month I was assigned the Saturday Evening Pot which is run by a husband wife duo, which is rather awesome. Their motto is “Faith, Family, Food: Flavors of a Fabulous Life” and fully covers everything they feature on their blog. There are so many amazing recipes on their blog, some created by Chef John while others are ones sent in from friends all over the globe. I was immediately drawn to their Okinawa Cooking Class recipe for Yoka Soba – minus the pork of course! Instead I greatly increased the amount of vegetables already featured in the dish, to include adding in a second type of cabbage.
I also added some sesame seeds for a crunch, but that’s just me – they can easily be left out. For those craving a meaty version, please check out the original recipe! I also have a feeling tofu would work great, but still on a low-soy diet as we get ready for next round of fertility treatments. In theory our transfer will be in a few weeks so will know if it worked sometime around the start of the year. If it doesn’t work, then we’ll be going for a session every other month for essentially the entire year. A lot to take in – but hopeful that 2015 will be our year!
In food news, there is a mini-SRC post coming up in two weeks so for those of you looking for something sweet make sure to come back on the 15th! The next “real” SRC post will be in early February, which seems so far off now but will be here in just a blink of an eye.
Curry Cauliflower Soup
Finally reaching the end of hot soup season – time to put away the stock pot and the dutch oven and get ready for fresh vegetables and cool dishes. However Mother Nature seems to be wishy-washy right now, and a few of these rainy days have been downright cold! So brought out my reliable pot and got to work creating a dish that would warm us up, while taking advantage of the early spring produce. Early spring is the only time I ever get cauliflower, as much as I enjoy the stuff the price is more than a bit insane the rest of the year. So for these few weeks I will enjoy this pale beauty and figure out how many different ways I can prepare it.
For those of you that do “normal” dairy I still recommend using the coconut yogurt as it really adds something to the soup. While the coconut yogurt isn’t as strong as standard coconut milk (or creme) it still adds enough of a hint to really make the curry POP. I enjoyed this along with some crusty bread so as to insure that no soup was left behind.
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
Green Beans with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Time for the January installation of Random Recipes! This month the amazing Dom of Belleau Kitchen challenged us to try a recipe from a friend’s cookbook, which worked out perfectly. For the past few weeks one of my coworkers had been talking about a new cookbook she got and how I had to give it a try. After telling her about the challenge this month she brought the cookbook right in and started showing me all the recipes from it that I had to try. Up until she brought in Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain cookbook I had no idea what the book would be, and got quite the kick out of it being a British cookbook since the challenge this month was inspired by UK based Dom being in the US visiting family. I had my co-worker pick my recipe and she selected the Green Beans with Spicy Tomato Sauce which I had no objections with, outside of one slight dietary tweak. I also had to figure out what a “knob” of butter was since that is not a standard US measurement.
I’m not sure how knob-like my knob was but this recipe was delicious! Everything came together so quickly and the sauce had just the right amount of oomph. I also have a feeling that this sauce would go great with zucchini or squash – maybe even tofu! I can’t wait to see what other recipes this amazing cookbook has, hopefully my coworker will let me borrow it for a little bit longer.
Poached Eggplant with Spicy Korean Sauce
Time for /52weeks! This week was a real challenge, since I’ve had Korean maybe once before and had never attempted to cook it. Luckily I have a few vegetarian cookbooks that include ethnic cuisines and found a great base recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. After Googling a few of the ingredients, and trying to figure out how I could get the same general flavor without the lemon juice or peanut oil. I also debated on how to best cook the eggplant, either the poached in the original recipe or the steamed version that was suggested. In the end I decided to go poached since I have never done that before, and might as well go all new!
This sauce is amazingly versatile, when I do this again I plan to double the sauce and add some fried or baked tofu to the mix. I think it would also go well with rice or buckwheat noodles instead of the rice – just to be a little different. This challenge just proved once again that trying out new techniques and styles can be very tasty! Also, be sure to check out World Vegetarian for the recipe that inspired this dish
Black Bean Stir Fry
The heatwave is still going strong and a number of records have been broken making this one of the hottest summers I can remember. I am trying to focus on the positive, such as my pepper plants that are growing like crazy and my tomatoes that are quickly ripening. Last year I had one little tomato grow, along with a basil tree. So far this year I have two tomatoes, one green pepper, one eggplant (!), a mini-basil tree, cilantro, and thyme. Still a little early to tell if the vegetables will full ripen but I’m hopeful that this year I’ll actually be able to cook up some of my own veggies.
This heatwave also has me working on some new recipes, ones that involve very little cook time. With my kitchen being as tiny as it is any amount of cooking causes the temperature to skyrocket so I’m trying to be in and out in under 15 minutes so that I can avoid the furnace effect. While a few recipes have crashed and burned others have been very successful. I have found a new appreciation for my wok which is the perfect tool when it comes to quick cooking. This recipe is very versatile and could also work with beef and chicken in place of the tofu for the meat eaters out there.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 tbsp veg oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- 1/4 tsp ginger, diced
- 2 scallions, diced
- 1.5 lbs broccoli, cut into 1in florets
- 8 oz tofu, cubed
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 tbsp Asian Black Bean Sauce (I use Kikkoman)
- Heat the vegetable oil and the soy sauce in a wok over medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot add the garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir well for 1 minute then add the broccoli, tofu and carrots. Cook for 5minutes, stirring well to prevent burning/sticking. Add the black bean sauce and toss well cooking for 2minutes, season to taste with soy sauce. Serve over brown or fried rice.
This recipe brings quick cooking to a whole new level, including prep time this meal is on table in well under 20minutes. Nothing like quick easy and tasty!