Boy did I over shop for the week! I have tons of vegetables from my normal run through of the Sunday Farmers' Market and couldn't resist hopping into a 99 Ranch after dim sum. For those of you not from the area, 99 Ranch is a chain of asian supermarkets that carry all things asian - literally. It's only about 20 miles distance-wise, but that certainly is no indication of traveling time in LA. Gotta love this city. Since I was on that side of town, I took advantage by stocking up on produce and sauces that I would never be able to find on the westside.
Please pardon my bastardization of this traditional Chinese dish, but I had to accomodate for non-meat eaters. Usually chow fun is made with flat rice noodles, onions, beef, and bean sprouts (not much left for vegetarians if you omit the beef). For this vegetarian version, I bought fresh rice noodles, fresh shiitake mushrooms, ginger root and pea sprouts from 99 Ranch. From my Farmers' Market haul, I added kale, red chard, zucchini, carrots and celery. I sauteed all the veggies first and then added the noodles and seasonings. I finished by garnishing with crunchy pea sprouts. Going back to traditional chow fun roots, I served it with a side of sriracha and Chinese hot mustard (the kind that comes in dry powder form and is sure to clear out your sinuses). :)
Farmers' Market Chow Fun
1 package of fresh wide rice noodles (32 oz)
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly root to end
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp of ginger, minced finely
2 carrots, julienned
3 stalks of celery, sliced at an angle
1 zucchini, sliced int 1/4" rounds
1/2 bunch of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 bunch of red chard, stems diced and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup of pea sprouts
1 tsp sugar
2 tbl Sesame oil
2 tbl Oyster sauce
2 tbl Soy sauce
Start by separating the noodles. Over high heat, heat enough canola oil in a wok to coat the bottom. Add garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add onions, kale, carrots and chard stems. After vegetables are softened, add your zucchini, chard leaves and celery (I wait for these because I want them to stay crisp). Next add your oyster sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Transfer the veggies to a plate and and a few tablespoons of canola oil to the wok. Brown the noodles in the wok and add incorporate your vegetables, being careful not to break the noodles. Garnish with pea sprouts. Serves 6
A while back my sister, Becky, gave me a wallet-sized pamphlet titled "Seafood Watch: West Coast Seafood Guide". It provides a list of seafood choices that are caught or farmed in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways. I know some might consider this mighty nerdy of me, but really do believe that little changes can make a big difference. It is how I chose my dinner for tonight after all. Post-yoga tonight, I was deliriously tired and absolutely famished wandering around the grocery store looking for something quick and satisfying. I stopped by the seafood section, and as though the clerk had read my mind he said, "The king salmon is on sale this week." I contemplated it, while making a mental reference to the pamphlet. "Hmm, is it wild caught?" I asked. "Yes, from Alaska," he replied. Perfect, wild salmon from Alaska was on the list as being one of the best seafood choices. I bought a pound of it. It would be perfect with the green mole sauce that we had the night before with goat cheese enchiladas. I had made a simple mole with one bunch of cilantro, half an onion, three cloves of garlic, one roasted poblano, two jalapeños, cumin, chile powder, almonds, spinach and celery (No recipe here. I just blended up what I had in the fridge and kept adding until it had enough depth). The second I stepped through the door, my stomach took over and it steered me straight into the kitchen. I started reheating the mole and preheating my cast iron skillet. There's nothing like a screaming hot cast iron pan to get a beautiful crust on your salmon. I patted the salmon dry, drizzled it with olive oil and seasoned it with kosher salt and fresh pepper. A few minutes on each side under high heat created a perfect crust to seal in the moisture of the salmon. I served the salmon atop a ladleful of mole and alongside lemon wedges and beet carpaccio. In 15 minutes total, we had dinner on the table (or tonight on the coffee table in front of the TV). :)
There's a vendor at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market that sells blemished tomatoes for half off. These tomatoes are perfectly delicious in every way, but just not "salad" pretty if you know what I mean. I always buy a few pounds of these. The sign says they're for tomato sauces and salsas, but they would be good in any cooked recipe. Here I transformed these disfigured Lycopene-rich monsters into cute little croquettes. I mixed the chopped tomatoes with onions, garlic, chives, basil, parsley and flour, formed them into patties, and pan fried them until golden brown.
Dried shiitake mushrooms... These guys are very versatile and carry a much different flavor than their fresh counterpart. According to Wikipedia, the sun-drying process draws out the umami flavor by breaking down proteins into amino acids. You learn something new everyday. All this time, I thought that my mom would buy the dried ones because they were cheaper than the fresh. Silly me. I use the rehydrated mushrooms in so many ways. I boil them in soup stock, chop them up for vegetarian pot sticker filling or, as shown above, braised as a main course. Here I simply braised the shiitakes in their own soaking liquid, with chopped garlic, ginger and oyster sauce. After my mushrooms soften, I thicken up the sauce with a cornstarch slurry. I served it with wilted spinach and a bed of brown rice to soak up the lovely gravy.
Braised Shiitake Mushrooms 10 dried shiitakes mushrooms, rehydrated 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced 2 tbl oyster sauce (I have also used the vegetarian version with great results)
2 tsp cornstarch 3/4 cup water
Cut the stems off the rehydrated mushrooms, and slice each one in half (they cook quicker this way). Place the mushrooms along with their soaking liquid and the next three ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. While all this is happening, I usually work on my vegetables or start doing some dishes. I'm learning to clean as I go, since usually when I'm done cooking it looks like a tornado has hit the kitchen. :) Once your mushrooms are ready, mix the cornstarch with the water and add it to the mushrooms. It should start thickening up right away. Garnish with chopped scallions and a few drops of sesame oil/seeds. Serves 2 generously.
I love eating potato curry and I love eating baked potato skins, so I thought I'd combine the two to make baked potato skins stuffed with coconut vegetable curry. First I baked the potatoes for an hour at 400 degrees. I scooped out the flesh to leave me with potato skins that had about an 1/4" border of potato left. Then I worked on my curry. I sauteed ginger, garlic, carrots, zucchini, peas and leek onions with some curry powder and red chile flakes. Once they were softened, I added a can of coconut milk and about 1/2 cup of water. I let the flavors meld together and the liquid reduce. I added a cup of cooked brown rice to finish off the filling for my potatoes. Back to the potatoes... I drizzled the potato skins with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, popped them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. With my potato skins all crispy and golden brown, all they needed was some creamy coconut curry to finish them off. I stuffed them and then stuffed myself. Yum!
I never know what to bring to work potlucks. What can be made ahead? What can be served cold or easily nuked? What will my co-workers eat... and most importantly, what is EASY? I've been working a lot these days, leaving little time in the day for quality kitchen time. I needed something I could make quickly. I decided on a jicama salad with oranges, avocado and radishes. I dressed it with fresh squeezed lime juice, orange juice and cilantro. Only thing left to do now is wait for the citrus to infuse the vegetables. Simple and good!
Jicama, Orange, Radish and Avocado Salad 2 medium jicamas, peeled and cut into wedges 1 bunch of radishes (about 8), sliced thinly 3 oranges, pith removed and sliced into 1/4" slices 1 cup chopped cilantro Juice of 2 limes and 1 orange 1 tsp chili powder 2 medium avocados salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients except for the avocados. Chill for at least a few hours, or overnight. Add the sliced avocado just before serving.
On the drive up to Joshua Tree a few weeks ago, my friend Kiel was telling me all about his little brother who is a hard core vegan. "He even makes his own almond milk," he said. We got to talking all about it and I told him the second I got home from camping I would make my own almond milk too. It was decided. Of course, that was weeks ago and the only thing I could think about when I got home from camping was one thing... showering! Camping is diiiirrrrty. I was reminded of this plan the other day after making granola. Homemade granola and homemade almond milk would be a whole lotta goodness. Now I have a fresh pitcher of almond milk, but find myself granola-less. Sigh. Guess it's time for another batch! Promise to post about it before it gets eaten up this time.
Raw Almond Milk Recipe 1 cup raw almonds 3 cups water (I used bottled. LA water is yucky!)
Soak your almonds in water overnight. Blend and strain. A cheese cloth is probably your best bet. Sweeten with raw honey if desired. You can always adjust your almond to water ratio, depending on how creamy you like it. While researching on almond milk, many recipes suggested blanching the almonds and removing the skins. No need for this extra work and this way it stays raw. Here's what you end up with once you've "milked" the almonds:
I know what you must be thinking... that the poor little almonds just got used and abused, but not to worry, I won't let the almond meal go to waste. I've decided to kill two birds with one stone and make my raw flax crackers too (It was one of my first posts if you care for the recipe).
From all our asparagus-filled dinners a few weeks back, I had saved all the asparagus ends for a day like today. Such gloomy weather always puts me in the mood for a bowl of soup. I simply added the asparagus ends to a mirepoix of one onion, two stalks of celery and two carrots. Since I wanted to keep it vegan, I added water to it once my vegetables were softened. To bump up the creaminess of the soup, I add a cup of unflavored soy milk. A whirl in the blender and a garnish of chives and soup's on!
Growing up, I thought grilled cheese only came one way - the way my dad would make it. He would take two slices of white bread, slap a slice of American cheese in between the two and pan fry it. I still love it that way, but like to make it a healthier, more palate-pleasing meal by throwing in some veggies. With all the different types of cheeses out there, the sky's the limit! For this simple meal, my grilled cheese was dressed up with baby spinach, tomatoes and a smoky chipotle white cheddar cheese.
I had only used half of the Pasilla chiles for the enchiladas, so I decided to go with my original plan of stuffing them with brown rice, black beans, corn and Panela. I topped it with a tomatillo salsa and fresh coriander sprigs. Going off one of the tips I had gotten from a co-worker, I made the tomatillo salsa out of baby tomatillos instead of the medium tomatillos that I usually use. The baby tomatillos seemed much sweeter as opposed to their larger counterpart. The larger ones usually require the addition of sugar at the end, to balance out the sour/tartness. I was happy with the out come, but didn't think it was really worth having to husk twice as many tomatillos. Oh well, it was worth trying at least. Back to cooking... I baked the stuffed chilies at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes and served them atop a layer of spicy tomato sauce (one part salsa, one part mole). These made an excellent vegetarian dinner.