Thai Corn Soup
Welcome to my first of five posts for #FreshTastyValentine! I’m starting things off with a simple and delicious soup that’s delicious hot or cold, so perfect for the insane weather that has been happening here on the East Coast. This soup also works well with my New Years resolution to keep things quick and simple as it comes together super quick – partially because of the fantastic herb pastes from Gourmet Gardens. Inspired by a vegan soup I made years ago from a cookbook Joe had, one that apparently did not make the move to Baltimore, I knew that that lemongrass paste would be the perfect addition. I also used the Thai Seasoning paste in place of the curry seasoning (tho I think the original original recipe called for paste) – always better to go organic and natural!
As a bonus, this soup is super easy to clean up from as the pastes mean no cutting board and the soup is made in one bowl. Perfect recipe for a crazy weekday (or weekend) night. I love that with these pastes all I have to do is unscrew the lid – one less step is always welcome. Huge THANK YOU to Gourmet Gardens for sending me such incredible items. For your chance to win the Gourmet Gardens herb package (or one of the many other prizes) be sure to check out my intro post to Fresh Tasty Valentine!
Quick note that the Gourmet Garden pastes do contain whey so they aren’t vegan but they are gluten free. However, their dried herb are just that making them vegan, gluten free, and perfect.
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.
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
Thai Basil Eggplant
Grand Ma’s Tofu
There is just something about Chinese food around the holidays, it just feels right! This week I had the added encouragement of /52weeks Take Out at Home theme. I debated about trying a thincrust pizza but forgetting to add water to the bread machine took care of that idea, so on to Chinese Food! Joe and I get Chinese food about once a month and our favorite place no longer ask us what we want, they hear my name and they know we are calling for eggplant and tofu. I had wanted to try making both of these recipes for awhile but every recipe I found online featured either pork or fish sauce and I wasn’t sure how our place does it without either of those. So I started experimenting with sauces, testing them out on soba noodles until I found the “right” combination. The hardest part was finding a chili paste for the tofu that didn’t include shrimp paste or fish sauce, but after a very long trip to the Asian grocery store I was able to locate one that was safe!
The best part about these dishes is that the sauces are so versatile, could easily switch things up and do a Thai Basil Tofu or a Grand Ma’s Eggplant. Each of these dishes would also make a great topping for some rice noodles, or just as they are.