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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable stock’

For Meatless Monday last night I had an almost failed attempt at making falafel. To make falafel, you need to start way in advance and soak some dried chickpeas in water for about 8 hours. We were out at the Morton Arboretum all afternoon when I got the urge to make falafel, so I tried to make it using canned chickpeas. As you’ll see, that just doesn’t do the trick as canned chickpeas are way too soft and don’t have nearly the same texture. Lesson learned.

In my food processor I tossed in 2 cans of chickpeas (the pic shows 3, but I only used 2), half a chopped red onion, 5 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, and a handful of basil leaves. Typically, besides soaked dried chickpeas, you’d use parsley. I didn’t have any parsley so I used basil. It actually worked quite well flavor-wise. At any rate, I processed everything into a paste and let it sit for about half hour. During that time I got everything prepped for the Israeli Couscous soup I made to accompany.

For the soup I used 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, the half of red onion diced, 1 quart of vegetable stock, 1 carrot chopped, 2 cloves of garlic minced, 1 cup of Israeli couscous, some basil, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds crushed in my pestle and mortar, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne.

I also had time to throw together my tomato and cucumber salad. I chopped up 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, half a seedless cucumber, and halved the rest of my cherry tomatoes (about 1/2 the container). I set the lettuce aside and threw the cucumber and tomatoes in a large bowl. I zested the lemon on top. In a separate bowl I juiced half of the lemon, tossed in a pinch of salt and a pepper, and then poured some olive oil in at a ratio of 2 parts oil 1 part juice. With a wisk I emulsified it into a smooth dressing and poured that in with the cucumbers and tomatoes and then tossed to coat. I set all of the salad ingredients aside.

Then, I laid some wax paper on a baking sheet and formed walnut-sized balls of the falafel mix on top. I sprinkled the tops with some sesame seeds. I was a little worried about the texture because it was kind of soft, but I thought everything would be ok. I let the falafel balls sit for about 15 minutes while I got the deep fryer ready and made the soup.

To make the soup I poured a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pot. I added the onion and carrot and let them saute for about 5 minutes. Then I added the garlic. 30 seconds later I poured in the can of tomatoes with the juice, the stock, and all of the spices along with some salt and pepper. Once it came to a light boil I added the couscous, partially covered the pot, and turned the heat down to medium-low to let it slowly simmer while I fried the falafel.

Once the oil was ready, 375 degrees, I dropped 3 balls in and let them go. A minute later when I checked on their progress I noticed that they were much smaller than they were at the start. I put them back in for a minute and then checked again…even smaller. The oil had basically disintegrated them. They were way too loose. What a waste of oil! While I was pissed, I didn’t panic. I had to switch gears and do it quickly so that the couscous wouldn’t overcook.

I quickly got out my big pan and heated it to high. I poured in some oil and ended up shallow frying the falafel. They turned out to be more like falafel latkes and did start to fall apart in the pan as well. I was able to salvage most of it though and turn out a decent dinner. It did take a little longer than I wanted and the couscous overcooked a little, they were a bit soft. Oh well, what can you do? Disasters are half of the fun of cooking.

To serve I added the basil and juice from the other half of the lemon to the soup just before ladling it into the bowls. On the plates I laid down some of the lettuce, then the cucumber and tomato salad, and then topped that with the falafel…we’ll call them patties. All in all it didn’t taste bad at all. Complete failure averted.

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Last night I made some noodle soup using Vietnamese rice noodles, pho-like broth, and Japanese fish cakes. Not sure what to call this dish, so I’ll just call it Japanese Pho. It was very simple to make and actually tasted really really good.

First thing I did was make the broth base. I crushed 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds and 1 star anise with my pestle and mortar. Once they were ground to an almost fine powder I added 1 teaspoon of ground cloves. I wish I had some ginger, I would have bashed that up and added it as well. At any rate, I had 3 cups of vegetable broth in my fridge that needed to be used up so I poured that into a pot, dumped the spices in, and let it boil for about 10 minutes. After that I turned off the heat and let it sit while I prepped the rest of the dish.

My ingredient list included 4 green onions sliced into inch length pieces, a small head of broccoli chopped up, two small carrots cut into thin strips, 2/3’s of a pack of shiitake sliced, half a cube of silken tofu diced, about half a container of baby spinach, about 4-5 ounces of bean sprouts, and 3 fish cakes from the Tensuke Market (these fish cakes had slivers of carrot and peas in them, one of my favorites).

In a clean pot I strained the broth base discarding the grit. I made sure to press the grit though to make sure I got all of the flavorful liquid. To that I added about 3 cups of water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of dashi-no-moto, and 3 tablespoons of sesame oil. Then I tossed in the green onions, shiitake, and broccoli. I brought all of that up to a boil and let it go for about 7 minutes while toasting the fish cakes. After that I added the carrots, tofu, and baby spinach for about 3 minutes. That was it, I turned off the heat.

While the soup was cooking I boiled some rice noodles in a separate pot with just plain water. I did that according to package instructions and then drained.

In my serving bowls I first put in the noodles. Then I ladled the soup on top and squeezed in some sriracha. On top of the soup I put in some bean sprouts and garnished those with some cilantro. I placed the halved fish cakes around the edge.

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For Meatless Monday last night I made a Cambodian-style noodle soup. It’s very similar to Vietnamese Pho, but the broth is slightly different. Pho usually has star anise and cinnamon in the broth, I didn’t use either of those. Stylistically though, their very similar. And why not? They are neighboring countries after all.

To get the Cambodian flavor I used ginger and lemongrass. I left the skin on the ginger and the tough outer layers of the lemongrass in tact. The ginger was sliced and those marks you see on the lemongrass are from banging it with the back of my knife. That loosens up the fibers and helps release the oils.

I put them in a sauce pan along with 1 quart of vegetable stock, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of water, and a lot of fresh cracked white pepper. I brought that all to a boil and let the flavors steep for about 20 minutes. Then I strained the broth into a large bowl and let it sit until later on in the cooking.

My ingredient list included bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms (not Cambodian, but nevertheless delicious and healthy), fresh made tofu from the HMart that I cubed, ginger and garlic that I minced, asparagus that I cut up (again, not Cambodian), half of an eggplant diced, green onions that were sliced about 2 inches in length, and rice noodles.

I started by heating up about 1/4 cup of soy oil and a few tablespoons of sesame oil. I let the ginger and garlic go until they were fragrant, about 1 minute, then added the green onion and asparagus. Once they started to slightly soften I added the eggplant. That took about 5 minutes until it was mostly cooked through. Then I added the tofu and enoki. Those both heat through relatively quickly, about 2 minutes. After all of those vegetables were heated I poured the broth in and let it come to a boil, then turned the heat down and let it simmer, covered, for only about 5 minutes.

During that time I cooked the noodles according to package instructions. Once cooked through I drained them thoroughly and divided them up into the serving bowls and ladled the soup on top. I topped all of that with the bean sprouts, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Half-way through eating I realized that something was missing….SRIRACHA!!! I took my sriracha out, squeezed a little into the broth, and all was good.

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I’m on the tail end of a bad cold and Yuki is in the midst of battling one too. In light of that, last night’s Meatless Monday was all about getting healthy. There isn’t much more healthy than quinoa, except for maybe the hemp seed. I also wanted to keep it really simple.

I first sautéed a bunch of chopped green onions in some vegetable oil for a few minutes, then added three chopped garlic cloves. A couple minutes later I tossed in a diced carrot and a diced yellow pepper. I didn’t want the veggies to get soft, just slightly cooked so shortly after they were sweating I added a cup of rinsed red quinoa. When you saute quinoa for a few minutes it brings out some of the nuttiness in its flavor. After that I poured in a cup of vegetable stock, a drained can of chickpeas, a drained can of sweet corn (I can’t wait for corn season!), about a half cup of peas, salt, pepper, garam masala, and a dash of turmeric. I brought that to a simmer and covered over low heat for about 10-15 minutes.

Once everything was cooked and most of the liquid had evaporated I took it off the heat and let it sit for a few more minutes. Then I fluffed the quinoa and served. A salad of green leaf lettuce and tomatoes with a shiitake vinaigrette on the side along with some toasted pita. Our immune systems got a nice boost last night.

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A good buddy of mine, Jason Meyer, gave us a couple of tables he made a while back. He’s a very talented sculptor/furniture maker/badass dancer that I used to work with at Bin36 back in the day. In order to show gratitude Yuki and I invited he and his fiancée over for dinner the other night. We figured that he gave us something that he made so we should do the same.

We started off with some Lemongrass Corn Soup with Avocado garnish. The soup was actually purchased and I didn’t make it (shhh, don’t tell Jason). It did taste exactly like something I would make though. Had I made it I would have simmered some corn and onion in vegetable stock with some lemongrass until the kernels were nice and soft. Then I would have discarded the lemongrass and blended the rest of the ingredients until smooth and strained it back into the pot. A little salt and pepper and there you go. I did make the rest of the meal. Well, that’s not entirely true as Yuki did some of it.

Then I served a simple salad. Mixed greens with cherry tomatoes and a sesame vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes are easy to make. This one had soy sauce, sesame oil, a touch of rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Next was the main course. I went to Olympic Meats for some good strip steaks. The steaks were pan-fried in nothing but olive oil. No salt or pepper added. Once I got a nice seer on each side and they were cooked about medium rare or so I put them on plate to rest. While they were resting I doused them with a sauce I had made. The sauce consisted of grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and pepper. No salt since there was plenty of soy. I made the sauce way in advance to let the rawness of the ginger and garlic mellow out a little in the lime juice. By pouring it on the steaks while they rested it allowed the flavors infuse into the meat and keep them nice and juicy. I served the steaks on top of baby spinach with roasted yellow peppers and shiitake.

On the side was some hijiki rice that Yuki made. In the rice cooker she added to the rice some diced carrot, hijiki seaweed, cooking sake, soy, and konbu dashi. It’s one of my favorites as hijiki adds a wonderful flavor to almost anything. Plus, it’s extremely healthy as most seaweed is.

For dessert I made some Mexican Chocolate Pots de Cremes. What better to follow Asian flavors than Mexican chocolate? I made these the day before to let them set in the fridge overnight. I used egg yolks, heavy cream, whole milk, Mexican chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate. You first have to heat the cream and milk without boiling it, just a slow simmer for a few minutes. Then you incorporate the egg yolks, beaten, very slowly constantly mixing so that the eggs don’t scramble. Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon add the chocolates in pieces so that they melt completely. Once you have a nice smooth thick custard pour it into your serving dishes, cover, and chill for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. To serve, I sliced some strawberries and added a little whipped cream.

Jason brought a bottle of Prosecco that we enjoyed with the soup and salad. After that we opened up a special bottle of Sake that we brought back from our last trip to Japan. Everything worked out extremely well. Portions were perfectly sized as none of us were hungry afterwords yet we weren’t stuffed either. I hope they enjoyed because it would be a disaster if I had to make them a table!

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Alright, another Meatless Monday in the books. Yesterday I made Moussaka for dinner. Traditionally made with lamb, I omitted the meat and made my own version. It was a lengthy process, but the results were delicious!

I sliced an eggplant into about 1/8th inch slices. Then I layered them on a colander and sprinkled some salt all over them. I put a heavy bowl on top and added some weight and let the bitter juices drip out for about a half hour.

While that was going on I simmered about a half cup of green lentils in vegetable stock with a bay leaf for 20 minutes, just before they became tender.

I prepped my other veggies while all of that was going on. One onion sliced, two large portabella caps sliced, two cloves of garlic smashed, two medium potatoes sliced to 1/8th inch, I opened up a 14oz can of chopped tomatoes, and one can of chickpeas.

I rinsed and dried the eggplant slices and drained the lentils. I heated a pot to medium-high and sautéed the onion and garlic in olive oil. During that time I also heated up a large skillet to medium-high. In the skillet I added a little olive oil to coat the surface and added the sliced eggplant in batches until they were all browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Then I did the same with the potato slices adding a little oil as necessary. Once the onions in the pot were soft, about 6 minutes or so, I added the mushrooms for a couple of minutes until they started to give off some of their moisture. Then I added the chopped tomatoes with a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and stirred that in. After that I added the chickpeas and lentils along with a few tablespoons of water and some rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper. I let that simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a baking dish I layered the potato slices to cover the bottom. I removed the herbs from the stew and poured that on top. Then I layered the eggplant slices on top.

Then I beat three eggs with a cup and a quarter of greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. I poured that on top. Finally, I grated a half cup of mozzarella and sprinkled that all over. I threw it in the oven at 350 and baked it for 45 minutes until the top was starting to brown.

I had some buttermilk in my fridge that needed to be used up so I made some biscuits to serve alongside.

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