Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

You will need:

For the salad:
1 package of rice vermicelli (the skinny clustered kind, but the spaghetti-like ones work, too)
1 package of firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 cups of chopped cabbage
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh herbs (mint and basil work well, but you can use cilantro, parsley, or all 4, I think mint is essential)
                                                                                        2 shredded carrots
                                                                                       1 cup mung bean sprouts
                                                                                        1/2 package of pea shoots

                                                                                    4 scallions
                                                                                    4 tablespoons chopped peanuts

                                                                                    For the sauce:
                                                                                    6 tablespoons soy sauce
                                                                                    2 cloves of garlic, pressed
                                                                                    1 lime, squeezed
                                                                                    8 tablespoons water

Start frying the tofu in a large pan in canola oil (about 3-4 tablespoons). Cover the pan and set on medium to medium-high heat. Meanwhile boil water for noodles. They don't take long to cook and when in the pan you do have to stir with a fork frequently to get them apart. Check on the tofu, turn as much of it as possible to brown the other side, press down to release liquids. Cover and let it cook.
Chop the herbs and shred your carrots, toss them in a large bowl with the cabbage, pea shoots and mung beans. Check the tofu. You might want to turn it again.
Whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, water and garlic. Set it aside. The noodles are probably done. So is the tofu. Drain the noodles, rinse them in cold water and take the tofu off the heat.

Divide the noodles onto plates or bowls (leave some aside, you will have extra noodles. Add generous heaps of the vegetable mixture to the side, or on top. Add tofu, which should be crispy and brown on most sides.
Top with chopped scallion and chopped peanuts, drizzle with dressing and eat.

You can mix the noodles and sauce all together, if you prefer. Some great substitutions: sliced cucumber instead of carrot (or with), lettuce instead of cabbage, add some sesame seeds to dressing, or chili sauce to spice it up.

Apple Pie!

Yes, it is that time of year....
I also went apple picking last month and have lots of apples.

So, first off, make the crust. I make a standard butter pie crust, but if you have a crust you like better, feel free to use it (gluten free, vegan, whole grain, etc).

2 cups of flour, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
2 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces and COLD!
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ICE COLD water

(the key to good crust is the COLD butter)

10-12 crisp apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
butter for greasing pie plate

Using a pastry cutter, cut the flour into the butter until it is crumbly (pea-sized pieces). Now get ready to use your hands. Start kneading the dough, as gently, but thoroughly as possible. I use the same way I do for bread: the envelope method. This is when you fold one side up and press, then again going around each side. As the butter and flour start to meld together, add some of the cold water, a tablespoon at a time to help the dough stick. It shouldn't take too long to have a ball of dough that is smooth and elastic, but sticks a little to sides of bowl.
Wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so the butter doesn't soften. If you can see bits of butter in the dough, don't worry, that will just make it yummier.

Now preheat the oven to 400.

While the oven preheats, peel and slice 10-12 apples. You can use more if you want, it usually depends on the size of the apple. Use a firm, crisp apple, like MacIntosh, Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Matsu, etc. They hold their shape and texture really well when baked.
Toss the apples in the flour, cinnamon and brown sugar, try to coat as evenly as possible.

Pull the dough from the fridge, cut it in half and place one of the halves on a floured surface. Roll out flat, moving in forward motions, turning the dough to keep the round shape. You want the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick.
Spray or grease your pie plate. Line the plate with your dough, letting the extra hang off the sides. Press it firmly in, so you don't have gaps.
Roll out the other dough. Cut off a small amount (maybe 3 inches) and put aside. Continue to roll dough flat and round.
Fill the pie plate with the apple mixture, using a spoon to make sure the apples fill the space.
Top with dough and using the extra around the sides, pinch dough closed around the edge of the pie plate. Nice and tight.
Roll out your small dough. Using a cookie cutter (star, leaf, fish, whatever) cut out a few shapes and place on top of pie.
Cut a slit in the middle and bake 30-40 minutes. Viola!Pretty as Pie!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chocolate Kamut Squares

So awhile back I bought a bag of puffed kamut to use as breakfast cereal. Well, I never had the inclination to use this cereal. So, I decided to make a version of rice crispy treats. Easy, quick, and tasty.

6 cups puffed kamut
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons cocoa
vanilla extract (optional)

Melt butter with brown sugar, corn syrup, cocoa, and extract. Turn off stove and mix in the kamut. Mix it well so all the pieces get coated. Grease a 13 x 11 glass baking dish and press mixture in tightly. Use wax paper if you don't want to use your hands. Let it cool 3-4 hours. Cut into squares.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Muffin Bread Pudding

So I made some really awful muffins yesterday. I don't know what went wrong, but I suspect my baking powder is the culprit. So what now? Throw away the muffins? I just can't waste them! So I made bread pudding with them. Nice and sweet, and so much better than the muffins were!

8 medium muffins (I used raspberry muffins), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 egg
1 1/2 cups vanilla soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup of sugar
2 table spoons of brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, mix the milk, extract, 1/4 cup of sugar and egg. Blend in the muffin cubes. Let it sit for about 20 minutes or so. Sprinkle brown sugar over top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until custard is firm. Knife should come out clean.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Quinoa with Pumpkin & Peas

This would work well with any winter squash. In fact, I suggest it, because it is really hard to cube pumpkin. It is relatively simple, and easy to make your own. Add garlic or feta cheese for more flavor, or sprinkle with sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Very aromatic when cooking.

1 cup quinoa                                              
1 table spoon olive oil

1 small sugar pumpkin, cubed (no skin)
1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup frozen peas

Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water with a dash of salt. Cooking quinoa is just like cooking rice. Meanwhile cube the squash/pumpkin. Saute the pumpkin and onion with the herbs (to taste) and salt and pepper. Add a little water and cover to steam the pumpkin, maybe an 1/8 of a cup at a time, just so pumpkin cooks quickly without burning to pan. When quinoa is done, fluff it and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. When the pumpkin is cooked through, turn stove off and add peas. Cover and let sit about 5-10 minutes. Add about 3/4 of the quinoa to the squash mix, more if you want and toss together.

Apricot Almond Pancakes

Once again, this is vegan because I still don't have eggs or milk. I bought the apricots to snack on, but haven't. So I am finding new uses for them. Almond extract would probably be a nice touch, but I don't have any left. These pancakes are very filling, yet surprisingly fluffy, and  great with clementines.
 Tip: make sure to  turn heat down on pan after it is hot, the pancakes have a tendency to stick to the pan.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
5 apricots, diced
1/4 cup shredded coconut

2 tablespoons oil
3 heaping teaspoons of ground flaxseed mixed with 7 teaspoons water
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, including the nuts, coconut and apricots. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and blend until just mixed, don't overdo it or pancakes will be tough. Oil a pan or griddle on high, spoon batter on and turn heat down to medium or medium-low. These pancakes don't bubble at the edges, so you have to flip when you see the edge looks brown (underside). Makes about 12 decent 4 inch pancakes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Muffins

I am not vegan, but I am out of milk and eggs. So I adapted a muffin recipe. It turned out yummy!

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup of the sugar of your choice (I used natural)

1 cup soymilk
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 1/2 cups frozen rasperries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray/oil/butter a 12 cup muffin tin.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Blend them together, but don't over mix. Gently fold in the raspberries and spoon into muffin tin immediately (raspberries bleed). Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Makes 12 medium-sized muffins.

The Plan

     Times are tough. Belt-tightening is required. With this in mind, I opened my cabinets and tried to figure out how to use everything in them without buying any more groceries (previously thought to be impossible). You see, I have this bad habit. When I want to make something I go out to buy the ingredients. Maybe you understand. There are things that have been hiding in my cabinet (in plain sight, mind you) that I bought ages ago, yet still have not used (why did I buy arrowroot powder?). So I googled and searched through my recipe books and I figured out that I just might be able to use most of this random food. I will be getting a little experimental with the substitutions. So. We'll see how it goes.