Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Easy Chia Seed Pudding

I've been hearing so much about how chia seeds are a Super Food--they are a good plant source of Omega 3 and each 15 mg serving (about a fat tablespoon) provides 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 4 grams of essential fatty acids for 80 calories.  So I decided to give them a whirl.  I had been seeing a bunch of recipes for chia pudding so I thought that would be a good entryway dish to try them.

I put a 1/4 cup of chia seeds in a bowl:

And then I stirred in a cup of almond milk (rice milk, coconut milk, or any liquid should work):

And then I just let the chia seeds absorb the liquid.  I strongly advise stirring it occasionally to keep the chia seeds from clumping (which prevents the individual seeds from absorbing the liquid):

After about 50 minutes, the chia seeds are like little tapioca balls with a little nutty crispness inside:

The taste is pretty much the flavor of the almond milk which is fine but not amazing.  So I experimented dressing it up.  I added 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and a dash of cinnamon, with a sprinkle of splenda and made a cocoa pudding:

I wouldn't rave about the cocoa pudding--I still need to play around with that one.  But adding a few chopped almonds and drizzle of honey made the chia pudding outstanding to me:

Besides being good for me, it was fairly filling too.  Overall, I think I can incorporate this chia pudding easily into my diet. Anybody have other suggestions for chia seeds that they like or find delicious?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tomato Paste Tablespoons

I found it fairly frustrating when a recipe called for a single tablespoon of tomato paste and I was left with the rest of a can with no other plans to use it.  I saw a suggestion in a magazine to freeze the rest of the can of tomato paste in ice cube trays, but since I didn't have any spare trays, I decided to just plop the rest of the can in tablespoons on parchment paper and put them in the freezer:

After a night freezing up, I was able to wrap them up individually in parchment paper:

Like a little bon-bon:

Then I put them all in a quart-size freezer bag:

So whenever a tablespoon (or more) of tomato paste, I just pull one (or more) of these from the freezer. So far, I pretty much use them straight from the freezer in recipes, like in Red Lentil Soup with Lemon.  But if you need it in soft paste form, let it defrost for about 30 minutes at room temp.

Hope this helps anybody who hates wasting food like me!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

I have been forever looking for the recipe of a tasty lentil soup that I had once in an Indian restaurant and never could find the recipe. It was called Mulligatawny soup but every recipe I've found looks nothing close to the one I ate. Then I found this recipe and it's hands-down one of my favorite soups of all time.

The recipe was printed in the New York Times: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon by Melissa Clark. I'm still on the look out for a recipe for the tomato and lentil Mulligatawny soup--if anyone has it, please, please, please share it with me. In the meantime, this red lentil soup keeps me pretty happy in the meantime, especially on chilly days.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dutch Oven Bread

I just remembered to update my previous post on the No-Knead bread, which I've been calling Dutch Oven bread also. I followed directions this time and used a dish towel on the second rise.  It made such an improvement:

Totally love this easy, beautiful bread!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vegan version of Linda's Egg/Spring rolls

I made a vegan version of Linda's egg/spring rolls with slight adjustments. I added some ginger and sesame to make up for the punch of the fish sauce.

I mixed together:
1 lb of firm tofu, smashed up with your hands
1 cup of finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
cooked rice vermicelli noodles, about a cup (roughly chopped so they aren't long)
1 egg
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP of minced ginger
2 TBSP of sesame oil
1 TBSP roasted sesame seeds
generous sprinkle of pepper
scant TBSP of soy sauce

The filling can be made gluten-free if using tamari instead of soy sauce, so I tried to see if I could fry up some of the rice paper that I used for salad rolls to see if I could make gluten-free spring rolls:

I stuck it in the pan with the regular (vegan) spring roll wrappers:

They browned nicely, but the rice wrappers became very al dente and a bit chewy to eat.

So I'm still working on a gluten-free version of these rolls, but in the meantime, these vegan spring rolls are pretty dynamite!

Linda's Egg/Spring rolls

My friend Linda texted me a recipe for egg rolls that she made for her vegetarian/pescetarian son that looked so easy, I thought I'd give it a go. And what better day than the first day of the lunar new year--Happy Year of the Snake everyone!

Mix together:
1 container of firm tofu (I used a 16 oz block), smashed up with your hands
1 cup of finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
cooked rice vermicelli noodles (roughly chopped so they aren't long)
1 egg
minced garlic (I used 2 cloves worth)
pepper (I used a generous sprinkle)
scant TBSP of fish sauce

Beat an egg in a bowl--this will be the sealant.

I used spring roll wrappers because I like the thinner wrappers and I'm able to find them made without egg (i.e., vegan for me).

Put the wrapper on the diagonal. I was able to put about 1/4 cup of filling on the lower third: 

Roll up from the bottom (south) point until even with the west and east points:

Then fold the side points in and continue to roll towards to the top:

Brush some egg on the last little triangle and then finish rolling up to seal up the wrapper:

These are usually deep-fried, but Linda said it's a waste of oil. She said just heat up about 1/8" of oil in a pan, but you'll have to rotate and cook all four sides.

Her suggestions of dipping sauce were either the typical fish sauce mix that is eaten with spring rolls or a Thai-ish sauce of hoisin sauce and peanut butter (about 3 parts hoison to 1 part peanut butter).

I made a fish sauce dipping sauce by mixing up:
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbs of fish sauce
1 tbsp of vinegar
juice from a lime wedge or two
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp of chili-garlic sauce

I also made the old standby dipping sauce my mom would make which is just equal parts soy sauce to vinegar (she used white, I use rice).

Tasty way to start the Year of the Snake!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vegan Furikake

I love gomasio on rice (which is just ground toasted sesame seeds and salt), but the addition of seaweed makes the rice even more interesting.  Furikake is typically, a combination of gomasio with seaweed and bonito (fish) flakes.  I decided to make a vegan version substituting kelp powder/granules to supplement the briny flavor without the fish flakes.

Vegan Furikake

1/4 cup sesame seeds (white or black or a combo of both)
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp kelp powder or granules
1 sheet of seaweed/nori (the non-roasted & salted kind--the kind used for sushi)

A major key is to toast the sesame seeds over low to medium heat in a skillet.  You want them to become toasted and fragrant.  A sign they're done is when they start popping:

Then quickly toast the nori sheet.  It toasts up real quick--it'll kind of curl up and change to a lighter color.  I cut it in smaller pieces to fit flatly in my skillet:

You can use a coffee grinder, mortar & pestle, or a suribachi like mine.  If you use a coffee grinder, set aside half the sesame seeds in a jar.  If you use a mortar & pestle or suribachi, set aside a fat tablespoon.  Grind the remaining sesame seeds, salt, and kelp powder/granules until coarsely ground:

This is the kelp granules I use:

Using kitchen shears, cut the seaweed into strips, then into smaller pieces:

Add everything to the jar with the whole sesame seeds and mix:

Really jazzes up brown rice and tofu!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancakes)

I was gifted with Marja Vongerichten's cookbook, "The Kimchi Chronicles" and had to make these sweet Korean pancakes--makes the best breakfast on a chilly weekend morning:

This video slideshow does a great job demonstrating the recipe and what everything is supposed to look like at various stages.  It may seem challenging but it came together pretty easily.  Here's my balls of dough waiting to be filled.

I went with the traditional brown sugar and nut mix as well as vegan chocolate chips:

And they cook very easily in the fry pan:

And beautifully.  You don't want to cook too fast on high heat because you want to give the filling time to melt inside:

Love that crispy golden brown color:

That melty chocolate goodness is heavenly!

I recommend making them when you have guests and can eat all of them while they're warm. They're a little less dazzling once they're cold. Looking forward to making these again soon...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vegan GF version of Sesame Chicken Noodle Soup

During the time when both my husband and daughter came done with the FrankenFlu of 2013 (after I recovered from it), I made them this Sesame Chicken Noodle Soup from this recipe at Epicurious:

They loved it but I also altered it to make a vegan, gluten-free version:

Sesame Tofu Noodle Soup

Toss together:

1 pound tofu, cut into thin strips
3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
2 tablespoons dry Sherry (I didn't have any--I used rice vinegar)
1 tablespoons dark sesame oil

In a separate bowl, mix together:

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups chopped cabbage (ideally Napa cabbage, but I used standard green) and 6 chopped green onions and sauté until cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes. Add 2 quarts vegetable broth and bring to boil. Add tofu mixture and tahini-garlic mixture. Reduce heat to low and simmer until soup is hot, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

Separately cook about 8 oz of rice noodles according to package directions.  Lay some in a bowl and ladle hot soup on top.  Top with more chopped cilantro if you like.

Brought the tofu soup to a friends house to share--the kids loved it!  Either way, both soups are great comfort food on a chilly day.