Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

A few days ago, I hosted some friends for a mid-morning chat and some coffee. I decided to make my favorite "naughty foods", a half-homemade Coffee cake. I love this cake, for lots of reasons: It's easy, it's fast, you can serve it warm or cold, it is inexpensive to make, I always have everything in my pantry to whip one out on short notice, but mostly I love this cake BECAUSE IT IS SUPER DELICIOUS!!! Here is the recipe:

Half-Homemade Cinnamon Coffee Cake

5 Tbs. cold butter-cut into chunks
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup toasted chopped nuts of your choice (optional-I never add nuts to this recipe, but a lot of people like them!)
1 Box Yellow Cake mix +ingredients as needed per box instructions

In a food processor with the blade attachment in place, pour in the butter, salt, and both sugars. Turn the machine on and puree them together. Add the flour and pulse the machine on and off a few times, until you have a thick crumbly beach-sand texture. Pour into a bowl. Stir in the nuts of you are using them.

If you don't have a food processor (and lots of people don't these days)simply allow your butter to come to room temperature, and place everything into a big bowl and "squish' it all together with your hands: This is also a great job for a little kid (with clean hands) if you have one!


Place in the fridge. Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare a boxed yellow cake mix such as per the directions. Pour about 1/2 the cake mix into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cinnamon topping onto your cake mix in the pan. (You can omit this step, and just pour ALL of the cake batter into the pan and then sprinkle all of the topping over the cake if you prefer an easier route.)

Gently and SLOWLY pour the remaining cake mix over the top of the cinnamon mix to cover it. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon mix over the cake mix.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. be sure to test the center of the cake with a toothpick before removing from the oven. Some of the cake batter might rise up and "fold over" some of the topping, don't worry! That is perfectly normal and it makes for a really beautiful effect once you slice into it.


Allow the cake to cool to a handle-able temperature, and serve with coffee, or tea!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chicken and Mushroom Wonton Soup

Today I had some leftover chicken to use up, so I made wontons with it for soup. Normally wontons are made with ground raw meat of some kind; such as chicken, pork, shrimp, crab, etc... The raw protein acts as a binder holding all the ingredients together, but since I used leftover, already cooked, chicken-I had to find another binder ingredient...enter leftover, cooked brown rice!

If you'd like to try this recipe with raw meat instead of cooked, just follow the recipe as written omitting the rice, and substituting in ground raw meat for the cooked chicken. Easy Breezy Lemon Squeezy!

As well, this recipe makes 5 dozen wontons. I usually use between 10-12 in a batch of soup, and simply freeze the rest for later. They keep about 12 weeks once frozen.

Chinese Style Wontons for Soup

8 oz. cooked chicken
1 cup cooked brown rice (white rice will do)
12 oz. shiitake or crimini mushrooms-quartered
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1/2 cup onion-diced
4 cloves garlic-minced
1 tsp. minced ginger
60 wonton wrappers
1 egg beaten with 2 Tbs. cold water

In a food processor, with the blade attachment in place, add the mushrooms and pulse until they are finely chopped up and looks like fine beach pebbles.
Remove from the food processor and do the same to the chicken
(if you are using raw meat, process until you have a fine pastes), remove the chicken from the processor and add the rice. Run the food processor until you have a thick pasty rice mash (if you know what MOCHI is, then you want a coarse looking mochi). Pour your sesame oil- please don't substitute a different oil here-into a hot sauté pan and cook the onions over medium low heat until they are translucent and golden brown-stirring often. Add the garlic and the chopped mushrooms, turn the heat up to medium high and cook stirring occasionally for 4-7 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated from the mixture.
Add the ginger and chicken, toss to combine everything. Remove the chicken  and mushroom mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool to a workable temperature. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the rice paste and gently mix with your very clean hands until you have a smooth uniform consistency that hold a ball shape when you squish a little in your hand.
Lay out 5-10 wonton skins on your clean work surface, brush with the egg wash and place about 1-1.5 tsp. of chicken mix in the center of each skin.
 
Fold into a triangle and then fold the points of the long side together to make a wonton. I have put a brief (and very, very rare Video) together for you to watch below.
Now, simply bring your favorite soup recipe to a simmer, drop in as many wontons as you like, and cook for 4-6 minutes.
serve, and feel the love!

You can store the Wontons you don't use in the freezer for up to 12 weeks. Simply lay in one layer on a cookie sheet to freeze the for about an hours. Then transfer to an airtight container for long-term storage.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Something not "Foodie"

Hi everyone!

This is the latest issue of Mount Pleasant Magazine, for which I am a contributing writer. I got asked to write two business profiles for this month's issue. They are a bit out of my genre as a Food Writer, and they definitely stretched my ability to write for businesses other than restaurants. I really enjoyed the challenge, and I hope you enjoy the articles. I am featured on pages 137, and 139 of the eIssue.

As sad as I am to be moving-in June-to California, I am so grateful to Denise James (the Executive Editor) for taking a chance, and taking me on! Thanks Denise, you are AMAZING, and I had so much fun working for you!!!

Oh yes, if anyone should be interested, you can SUBSCRIBE to Mt. Pleasant Magazine here: http://mountpleasantmagazine.com/contact/


Mount Pleasant March/April 2015 Magazine Online Green Edition

http://mountpleasantmagazine.com/green/


Now, I just hope that I can find a great publication out in the San Francisco Bay/Wine Country area for which to write that is a great as Mt. P Magazine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pasta al Pomodoro: easiest pasta EVER!!!

This is my favorite Humpday Dinner, Happy Wednesday, everyone!!!


Pasta al Pomodoro
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion minced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic minced (about 2 Tbs.)
pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
28 oz. canned tomatoes-pureed in the blender
2 Tbs. freshly minced basil
3-5 qt. water seasoned with salt and olive oil
12 oz. pasta of choice (I use linguine, the magazine calls for bucatini or spaghetti)
2 Tb.s cubed butter
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan or pecorino cheese

my version with linguine and foccacia-Mmmmmmm!
Heat the oil over medium low in a 12" skillet. Add the onions and cook until very soft-about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 4 minutes until very fragrant. Add the red pepper and cook one minute more. Increase the heat to medium, and add the tomato puree. Cook stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, until the sauce is thicken up. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the basil, and set aside. Meanwhile, bring the seasoned water to a boil and add the pasta-cooking until about 2 minutes before it's done. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water. Heat the sauce over medium heat and add the water to loosen the sauce a bit, add the pasta and cook while stirring until pasta is done and al dente. Remove form the heat and stir in the butter, and cheese. Toss until cheese is melted into the sauce. Serve in the nicest pasta bowls you have-garnished with extra cheese and basil on top. ENJOY!!!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Balti Style Tofu with Field Peas


So, I've discovered that my adopted home state of California has some serious onion and garlic crops growing here. I love them both as they have great health benefits and just plain old fashioned taste fabulous! Here is one of my favorite curries. It's very spicy hot, so if you can't take the heat just remove the chilies. before we get to the recipe though here are a few health benefits to Indian Spices, Garlic and Onions for you to read about:

Turmeric has been proven to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. I have it on good authority from my very dear friend Premoj Thomas who is from the Gajirat region of India, that women there mix 1 tsp. of turmeric with a glass of warm sheep’s milk (I do it with cow’s milk myself), and drink this before bed to prevent puffy eyes in the morning. I’ve done it a few times and it seems to work. Only don’t drink this tonic more than 3 days in a row or your skin will actually start to turn YELLOW!!!
Garlic: Many people don't realize that an onion has almost as much medicinal value as garlic does. Battle wounds in WWI were treated with garlic juice. No standard medication can match Garlic on the cardiovascular scale. Garlic DEFINITELY reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and reduces internal clots which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Garlic reduces blood sugar and therefore helps diabetes sufferers. It may help eliminate lead and heavy metals in the blood stream, has helped leprosy patients, fights cancer, and helps aids patients.
Ginger: It is very good digestive aid, may ease menstrual cramps, help arthritis, is traditionally used in the orient for colds and flu and is excellent for reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and preventing internal blood clots.
Warnings: Large doses might cause miscarriage although there are no scientific reports backing this up.
Cayenne: It is a good digestive aid, can relieve infectious diarrhea, but can bring on noninfectious diarrhea if too many hot peppers are ingested, helps chronic pain when used externally, is the best shingles reliever, helps headaches, and tastes great!
Warnings: can burn the eyes, mouth and skin! Use caution when handling cayenne pepper.
Cinnamon: infusion of powdered herb, sprinkle on cuts and scrapes for treatment
Cinnamon is used for infection prevention, pain relief, and a digestive aid and may help calm the uterus
Warnings: when put on the skin may cause redness and burning.
Clove: It has been used for toothaches, oral hygiene, a digestive aid and an infection fighter. It is also used to treat hernia, ringworm and athletes foot.
Warnings: Children under the age of 2 should never be given clove for medicinal purposes. The oil may cause upset stomach when taken internally and rash when used externally.
Coriander: Used for indigestion, flatulence , and diarrhea and externally for muscle and joint pains.
Warnings: if coriander cause minor discomforts such as upset stomach use less or stop using it.

Onions are Beneficial for Your Health

onions
Onions are beneficial to health
What would life be like without onions? The onion has been used as an ingredient in various dishes for thousands of years by many cultures around the world. World onion production is steadily increasing so that onion is now the second most important horticultural crop after tomatoes.

There are many different varieties of onion, red, yellow, white, and green, each with their own unique flavor, from very strong to mildly sweet. Onions can be eaten raw, cooked, fried, dried or roasted. They are commonly used to flavor dips, salads, soups, spreads, stir-fry and other dishes.

Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots.There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine. There are over 120 different documented uses of the Alliums.

Onion and other Allium vegetables are characterized by their rich content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavor and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli. Onion is not as potent as garlic since the sulfur compounds in onion are only about one-quarter the level found in garlic.

The Value of Onions

Onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.

Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.

Cardiovascular Help

Onions contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. In India, communities that never consumed onions or garlic had blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially higher, and blood clotting times shorter, than the communities that ate liberal amounts of garlic and onions. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural anticlotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic activity and can suppress platelet-clumping. The anticlotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content.

Cancer Prevention

Onion extracts, rich in a variety of sulfides, provide some protection against tumor growth. In central Georgia where Vidalia onions are grown, mortality rates from stomach cancer are about one-half the average level for the United States. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.

Chinese with the highest intake of onions, garlic, and other Allium vegetables have a risk of stomach cancer 40 percent less than those with the lowest intake. Elderly Dutch men and women with the highest onion consumption (at least one-half onion/day) had one-half the level of stomach cancer compared with those consuming no onions at all.

Western Yellow, New York Bold, and Northern Red onions have the richest concentration of flavonoids and phenolics, providing them with the greatest antioxidant and anti-proliferative activity of 10 onions tested. The mild-tasting Western White and Vidalia onions had the lowest antioxidant content and lowest anti-proliferative activity. The consumer trend to increasingly purchase the less pungent, milder onion varieties may not be the best, since the onions with a stronger flavor and higher astringency appear to have superior health-promoting properties.

Use and Safety

Onions have a universal appeal. They are safely consumed by most people. However, consuming large quantities of onions can lead to stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that may result in nausea and diarrhea. There are no known interactions with drugs except that they can potentiate the action of anticoagulants.

Conclusion

Onions, and other Allium species, are highly valued herbs possessing culinary and medicinal value. Some of their beneficial properties are seen after long-term usage. Onion may be a useful herb for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, especially since they diminish the risk of blood clots. Onion also protects against stomach and other cancers, as well as protecting against certain infections. Onion can improve lung function, especially in asthmatics. The more pungent varieties of onion appear to possess the greatest concentration of health-promoting phytochemicals.
Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.

With all that said...Go out and eat some onions!!!!

Balti sauce with Tofu
2 onions-peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbs. Tomato Paste
1 Chipotle Chili in Adobo sauce
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. Brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 Lb. extra firm tofu-cubed*
1-2 cups field peas or baby sweet peas
Place everything except the tofu into a blender (or a food processor) puree until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of thick pancake batter. Heat a 12-14 inch sauté pan to medium high heat. Pour in the onion mixture and allow it to simmer for 8-10 minutes until it’s reduced slightly and a bit thicker.  Add the tofu and peas, turn the heat to medium low,  and warm through-about five minutes. Serve with Rice or Naan bread.
*If Tofu is not your thing, simply substitute peeled shrimp, chicken meat, or pork.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Thai Glass Noodle Salad

Happy Friday!

I was introduced to this dish in Phuket, Thailand in 1995. It is so amazing and easy, that when I made for lunch today, I knew I had to share it with everyone!

Thai Glass Noodle Salad
for the salad:
4-6 ounces dried Bean Thread
2 cups veggies of your choice (I like snow pea pods, sliced baby carrots, and julienned red onions)
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro

for the dressing:
juice of 1 lime (about 3-4 Tbs.)
2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. chili garlic sauce
1 garlic clove minced
1 Tbs. Sesame oil
3 Tbs. coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar works great too)
1 red Thai chili-sliced thinly (optional)

to assemble:
Cook the noodle according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, cut up you veggies. Place everything for the dressing in a bowl, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. (TIP: if you want to take a little bitterness out of your snow pea pods, add them to the hot water with your bean threads).

Drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a nonreactive mixing bowl, and toss with veggies and dressing.

Serve, and feel the love!




Thursday, February 5, 2015

Saigon Salad Mix

Hello fellow foodies!
I love salad. I mean I really LOVE salad. I can (and usually do) eat salad several time per week, and when I am watching my weight, salad is for dinner every day.

Here is my recipe for "Large Batch Saigon Salad". Why this salad mix? Well, because it has lot of nutritious veggies, very flavorful, and it pairs well with the soy-tahini dressing-recipe to follow.

Large Batch Salad:
 2 large bowls

8oz. baby carrots-shredded in the food processor
2 red bell peppers-julianned
1 bunch celery heart-very thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro-chopped
1 English Cucumber-halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
6 roma tomatoes-halved seeds removed, and julianned

1 large head of romain lettuce
1 large head of NAPA cabbage

place the first 6 ingredients into one large bowl and toss. Cut the roamin and the cabbage in half down the length. Very thinly slice 1/2 of the romain and 1/2 of the cabbage, place in the second bowl. Cut the remaining lettuce and cabbage and place it in the third bowl. Toss the greens together. Put 1/2 of the mixed veggies into each bowl of greens. Toss everything togehter, and store in gallon ziptop bags.

To make loading the bags easier open the bags over the lip of an empty gallon pitcher (you can get one from your local dollar store).
Seal the bags and place in your veggie crisper. The mix last 6-10 days.

Soy/Tahini Vinaigrette

1/4 cup soy sauce (or wheat free tamari)
1/4 cup tahini
3 Tbs. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. packed brown sugar
1 clove garlic crushed and minced
1 tsp. grated ginger

Mix everything in a bowl with a wire whisk. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Curried Carrot Soup

Today it is very chilly here in Charleston, and I have been very sick, so I am laying low inside the house. This means that I am getting very bored. When I get board, I usually end up in the kitchen cooking something. Lately,though, I've been trying to eat more healthfully-so cooking is a bit more of a challenge. I decided to get out my blender ( I have a Vitamix Machine), and make a 'creamy' soup.

About 5 miles from where I used to live in California was Grimway Farms. They are a huge producer of organic carrots. I used to love to go down the hill to their little farmstand shack by the road and pick up there carrots now and again. I can still buy them here in Charleston, but I have to go to Whole Foods for them-which is never a hardship! Carrots are one of my most favorite foods: Needless to say-I ALWAYS have a large amount of fresh organic carrots in my fridge. I settled on an idea today for Curried Carrot soup. I didn't have a recipe when I started, but after adding a bit of "this and that" I have a very good recipe to share with everyone! Cook Joyfully!



Curried Carrot Soup

2 Lbs. carrots-peeled and trimmed and cut into 2 inch chunks
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. all purpose Flour
1 cup diced onion
1 Rib celery-diced
1 Tbs. red or yellow curry paste (Powder works too)
1 clove garlic-crushed and minced
1 tsp. each: cumin, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric
1 Qt. chicken(or veggie) stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place the onions, celery, garlic, and all the spices into a stock pot with the olive oil. Saute over medium heat until the onion are softened and translucent.Add the flour and stir the mixture until all the onions are coated and look a little sticky. Add the stock and whisk the mixture until smooth, then add in the carrots. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the soup to a simmer, and allow to cook about 10 minutes-just long enough to soften the carrots, but not cook them through. Remove the soup from the stove and (reserving the liquid) strain the solids into a blender. Add a little cooking liquid and puree the mix on high until very smooth and very creamy. Pour the pureed mix back into the remaining cooking liquid and cook gently until the soup is thickened slightly and very creamy in texture. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.

Serve with a little unflavored yogurt, or sour cream. You can also sprinkle with a few chives, or croutons for crunch.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Empanadas

I first made Empanadas, for a staff meal, while working for Anson in Charleston, SC.  They were such a hit, I ended up making them on a regular basis.

I have filled these lovely little pockets with every combination of ingredients I can think of. From simple taco meat, to duck ragout, to five spice spiked chocolate truffle mix. Any way you eat them they are gorgeous.

Below is a standard filling. But use your imagination. Go wild and try some of your own fillings. You will be rewarded time and time again with amazing yumminess!!!

My favorite thing about them is that they freeze very well. I like to make a large batch and cook a few now and freeze the rest for later. Here is the recipe and corresponding pictures.

Empanadas

DOUGH:
3 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher, or sea, salt
9oz. (18Tbs.) very cold butter
11Tbs. cold water
Place the first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse on and off until you have a pebbly sand consistency.


Add the water and pulse the machine on and off a few more time until the mix comes together.

Transfer the dough to a clean surface and gently knead for 20-30 seconds just until you form a ball. DO not overwork the dough or it will be tough and chewy. Flatten the dough into a thick disk and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes to rest and chill.

Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. cut into 2 1/2 inch circles with a cookie cutter or the rim of a rocks glass.

FILLING
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Lb. ground beef, pork, lamb, goat, or chicken-or any combination thereof
1 Tbs. each smoked paprika, cumin, coriander
1tsp cayenne
2 tsp. salt

Over medium high heat, saute the onions and garlic in the oil. once the onions are cooked-about 5 minutes- add your ground meat of choice (I have used smoked tofu as well with some success). saute until the meat is cooked through. Drain off as much oil as you can. Add the spices and saute until fragrant. About 5 minutes more. Let the mix cool, and stuff your empanada dough with filling.

TO ASSEMBLE
Flatten out the dough a little bit more. Place it on a clean surface. Brush the entire disk with egg wash (1 egg and 2Tbs. water whisked together). Place 2 Tbs. of filling in the center of the dough disk.

Fold the dough over to form a pocket and crimp the edges together.

Bake the pocket at 400* for 12-15 minutes. Or you can pan fry them in a little corn oil for
3-4 minutes per side, or deep fry them for 3-5 minutes. Serve with sour cream, salsa and anything else you think would be yummy to dip them in!! Ole!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thai Barbeque Chicken

Happy Humpday!


Last week I tried going vegan for a week. While I found it an interesting challenge to stick with, and a very healthy lifestyle overall, it is just not for me. So to celebrate going back to being a "part-time" vegetarian, I made one of my favorite chicken dishes of all time.


I picked this recipe up while I was living in Tokyo, Japan. It was a dish that my favorite Thia restaurant served, and after a few tries, I managed to replicate the dish with great success. If you cannot find fish sauce or Sambal Oelek on the International Isle of your local grocery store, then you may have to make a pilgramage to your local Asian Grocery. I assure you, though, if you love big flavors, the trip is totally worth it!




Thai BBQ Chicken


This recipe is pretty easy, and you can use the sauce on fish, shellfish, pork, and lamb. I have not tried it on beef or game meat, but if you do try it and are successful, please email and let me know. Also, I often have quite a bit of the sauce leftover. It keeps well in the fridge indefinitely.

Thai Barbequed Chicken
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup chili garlic paste (Sambal Oelek sauce)
1 Tbs. ground ginger

Place everything into a high-walled sauce pan to prevent overflow. Over high heat bring the
mixture to a rapid boil, whisking a few times to prevent the sugar from burning. Turn the heat to medium and allow the sauce to reduce to about half of its original volume.

You'll end up with a maple syrup consistency. Allow the Barbeque sauce to cool to room temperature and lightly brush onto:
2-3 pounds of chicken breasts, thighs, or bone in quarters. (I have even used a whole chicken, that I roasted in the oven,with great success)

Grill, sauté, or roast your chicken as you would normally. There is a lot of sugar in this sauce so don't be alarmed if you see some 'charring'-that's normal and desirable. Once your meat is cooked through, baste it very liberally with the remaining sauce. Or you can cut up your meat into 1 inch cubes and toss in with the remaining sauce in a big bowl. Serve, and be happy!

Chef's variation:
1)Make the sauce and allow it to cool to room temperature. Fry off about 6 pounds of chicken wings-in batches- in 350F oil for 12-15 minutes...or until they are fully cooked. Then in a very large bowl toss your wings and sauce. Serve with ranch/blue cheese dressing and veggies sticks.
2)Use lime juice in place of your vinegar for a more delicate flavor.
3)Add 1/4 cup of SRIRACHA if you want an extra powerful kick
4) You can add apricot jam in place of the brown sugar for a more 'fruity' flavor

Monday, January 26, 2015

Curried Coconut Soup

Happy Monday!

I have been down with an extremely bad cold (it may even be the Flu), for a few days. Today was
the fist day in nearly a week that I have had an appetite. As a matter of fact; I woke up with a craving for Laksa. What is Laksa, you ask?

Have you ever had Tom Ka Gai (Thai Coconut and Chicken Soup)? Well...if you have and you like it, you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe. It is called by a few different names, but as far as I can tell "Laksa" is the original name for this amazing, spicy, and satisfying noodle dish. I used chicken in this version, but feel free to add seafood, pork, or tofu! Shrimp is particularly yummy in this soup. Just remember to omit from the recipe until the very end as it only needs a few moments to cook through!


This dish does require you to make a pilgrimage to the local Asian grocery, or put in an online order for a couple of items, but I assure you, dearest reader, that the effort will be worth it in the end!

I use Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste for this recipe:


But whatever brand of red curry you prefer, will work just fine. Here is the recipe!!!

Laksa

2 cans Coconut milk (do NOT NOT NOT use low fat coconut milk-you will be very sorry!)
2-4 Tbs. red curry paste (depending on your personal spice tolerance)
2 Tbs. turmeric
1 Lb. chicken meat (white or dark or a mixture)-chopped into 1 inch cubes)
8 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup (about 4 lime's worth) freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tbs. Fish sauce
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/3 cup light brown (or palm) sugar

In a very wide bottomed pot bring one can of cocnut milk to a roaring boil.

Allow the coconut milk to evaporate until it starts to break up and separate.

Add the curry and turmeric and whisk to forma loose paste.

Add the chicken and stir to completely coat. Cook over high heat stirring often for about five minutes or so-until the chicken appears to be browning. Add remaining ingredients and turn the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime-Cook about 6 ounces of Chinese chowmein (or other wheat based noodle) as per the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Form the noodles into 4-6 "nests. On high heat add about 2 Tbs. of sesame or vegetable oil in a 14-16" sautée pan.  Once the oil is shimmering hot, add the noodle nests. Cook 3-4 minutes per side. Keep warm until you are ready to use them.

Place one noodle nest per bowl and ladle the soup over the nests. Serve with you favorite toppings. Mine are:


Thinly sliced Thai chilies (red or green)
Chopped peanuts or cashews
Green onion slices
Bean sprouts
Cilantro Leaves
Chopped Cilantro
Fried garlic slices

Allow everyone to choose their toppings and amounts....EAT and REPEAT!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Blue "Cheese"

This week I am trying to eat a vegan diet. If you know me, or have followed my blog for a while, then you know that I eat 80% vegetarian, and enjoy seafood or poultry every now and then. I love a good steak too, but that is usually a once-every-few-months treat.

Now as a "Mostly Vegetarian", I have felt justified in leaving the dairy in my diet. After all, dairy products are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and yadda yadda yadda...Thus making the leap to veganism is not as easy as one might think. I love cheese. No, seriously, I really LOVE and ADORE cheese. I have been known to tell people that cheese is proof the Universe wants us to be happy! So, going Vegan was not even on my radar until I stumbled across a recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese and Vegan Cheddar spread. Naturally I altered both recipes a bit, and with very good results. They are both actually pretty delicious, and I'll be darned if they don't actually come frighteningly close to the real deal!

Here is my new recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese. Don't let the ingredients list frighten you. Everything you need can be gotten at your local Whole Foods.

Vega Blue "Cheese"
1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-3 hours in warm water
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. white miso
1 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. nutritional yeast *(see note below)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. kelp granuals

1/8 tsp. spirulina powder

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a food processor. Purée until very smooth. Scrape into a plastic container

-reserving 2 Tbs. in a different bowl-and smooth out the mixture so that it lays flat. Add the spirulina to the smaller bowl of cheese mix and stir until homogenized and you have a dark green color throughout. 

Spread the green cheese mix over the top of the rest of the cheese mix. swirl a knife around a few times just to get a marbled effect.

DO NOT COVER, and chill open 12-24 hours to let the cheese dry out and harden a bit. This will still not be a "crumbly" blue cheese, but more of a creamy style. Scoop out in small spoonfuls to use as a topping for burgers, fruit, or crackers.