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Archive for the ‘Appetizers & Snacks’ Category

With this tropical weather I’m craving tropical food. This simple and refreshing combo is prepared quickly and requires no fussing at all. And as the satés are BBQ, no need to fire up the oven and warm up the house further.

 

 

Green papaya salad and smoked tofu satés with peanut dipping sauce

Tofu satés

Ingredients

  • 2 packs of smoked tofu, cut lengthwise in 1 cm thick slices

For the marinade

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) kecap manis
  • 30 ml (2 tbs)  soy sauce
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) fresh lemon juice
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, trimmed, smashed and cut into pieces
  • 15 ml (1 tbs) fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 ml (1 tsp)  ground turmeric
  • 5 ml (1 tsp)  ground cumin
  • 5 ml (1 tsp)  ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the sauce

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 60 ml (2 tbs) light brown sugar
  • Pinch cayenne

12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients.
  2. Arrange the tofu slices in a single layer in a large and shallow dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hres.
  3. Remove the tofu from the marinade and thread the slices on bamboo skewers.
  4. Grill over hot coals until golden brown, turning once.
  5. While the satés cooks, put the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan and warm gently stirring to combine well.
  6. Let the satés cool slightly and serve them with the peanut sauce for dipping.

Green papaya salad

Ingredients

  • 1 liter (4 cups) green papaya, shredded
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 15 green beans, cut in 2 cm pieces
  • 2 Thai chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) vegan nước chấm
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 ½ lime
  • 45 ml (3 tbs) palm sugar
  • 60 ml (4 tbs) toasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Peel and shred the papaya using a grater with medium to large sized holes. Reserve.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chili peppers, vegan nước chấm, garlic, lime juice and palm sugar and mix until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes, green beans and green papaya and mix well.
  4. Top with peanuts and serve.
Serves 6

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Grilled spring onions to me equals fiesta! Mexican Cambray onions or Catalan Calçots, spring onions with their slightly bulbous base and tender, delicious flesh are the perfect thing to trough on the grill. I buy mine at my local Mexican grocery. They’re the perfect snack or side. You’ll see it’s so easy to make, this hardly requires a recipe.

Freshly picked Cambray onions

Ingredients

  • 20 Cambray onions
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • coarse salt to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges (to garnish)

Prepare your grill.

Clean the onions and trim the ends, leaving about 15 cm (6″) of green stalk and coat them with oil and salt.

Grill over glowing coals for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened and lightly charred, turning them a few times (Alternatively, you can broil then for 10 to 12 minutes.)

Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.

Serves 4

The sweet, lightly charded onions would pair well with simple German Riesling, but then again, what doesn’t!

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Classic thrown-together-leftover pizza. The result was decent but I still need a better pizza dough recipe (paging Jonny) and a proper pizza stone would be a plus.

I had some leftover grilled veges from the night before ready to go.

So I made the dough and whipped up a sauce out of fresh orange tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, fresh oregano, and a few chili flakes. Once the sauce was on, I sprinkled sliced garlic and fennel seeds.

We wanted 2 very different things so the left half was topped with grilled veges, sliced onions, black olives and fake cheese while my half was topped with olives and zucchini bacon.

After baking in a very hot oven for 20 minutes, fresh basil leaves were added to the left half. The right half was topped with lots of wild arugula and drizzled with olive oil. We were in a rush to dig in, the final photo didn’t quite happen but you get the idea…

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Do you see a pattern emerging here?… What can I say, tomatoes are in season and my tiny urban garden is bursting with them! This salad was homegrown except for the crunchy little Persian cucumbers. Grow your own food, it tastes so much better!

Cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers salad.

Ingredients

  • 500 ml (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 500 ml (2 cups) persian cucumbers
  • one handful fresh lime basil leaves
  • one handful fresh mint leaves
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Extra Virgen olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) apple cider vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim and cut the cucumbers in quarters length wise then slice across thickly. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves. Roll up the basil leaves tightly and cut into thin strips. Repeat with mint. Combine all ingredients into a large salad bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

Serves 4

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Seriously. I could eat this every day. It’s all my mom’s fault really… She’s transmitted her addiction on to us. We’re now contaminating the 3rd generation.

Orange zebra tomato sandwich with avocado and red curly lettuce.

No recipe necessary. Ingredients are super basic but must be the best and freshest you can get your hands on. Good rustic bread, toasted. Juicy and tangy homegrown tomatoes. Curly leaf or other crunchy, preferably homegrown lettuce. Homemade vegan mayo. Sometimes avocado or zucchini bacon. That. Is. It. Summer!

P.S. my #2 summer food is Vietnamese summer rolls and that addiction is almost as bad, at times even surfacing in the middle of winter…

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I had been craving zucchini blossoms for weeks and could not find them at all. It always blows me away when I can’t fin something in NYC. I mean seriously, this is NYC how could it not have XYZ?!? Specially food stuff. Why can’t I just reach for puntarelle, zucchini blossoms, chestnuts, preserved lemons, vin jaune, pain poilâne, vegan crème fraîche, ok maybe that last one is pushing it a little but you get what I saying.

Anyway, I finally found zucchini blossoms last weekend at the Grand Army plaza market. This is what came of it.

Stuffed zucchini blossoms with fava beans and garlic scapes
(sorry for the crappy photo, there was no light left at all)

For the Fava Beans

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3 pounds) unshelled young fresh fava beans
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • lemon juice

Shell, blanch and peel the fava beans.

Sauté the garlic scapes in the oil until for a minute. Stir in beans, add water and simmer, covered, for 8 to 12 minutes until the beans are tender.

Add salt and pepper, turn up the heat and cook uncovered until the last of the water has evaporated.

Remove from heat and reserve.

For the stuffed zucchini blossoms

Ingredients

  • 18 zucchini blossoms
  • 350 ml (12 oz) beer
  • 75 ml (5 Tbsp) flour
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) corn starch
  • 60 gr (2 oz) firm tofu
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • one recipe of vegan ricotta
  • vegetable oil for frying

Trim the stems, remove the pistils and very gently wash and dry of the zucchini blossoms.

Prepare the batter by combining the beer, flour, tofu and salt and pepper. Process in a high power blender until creamy. Keep aside.

Use a pastry bag (or a small ziplock) to fill the blossoms with cheese. Reserve.

Heat the oil to 175ºC  (350ºF).

One by one, dip each stuffed blossoms in the batter and drop them in the hot oil. Fry in small batches until golden brown.

To plate

Put a few spoonfuls of beans on each plates. Drizzle with more olive oil and lemon juice. Top with blossoms. Serve right away.

Yields 6 mains or 10 appetizers.

Wine pairing

I would suggest a dry Italian white. Be adventurous, move away from the standard Pinot Grigio and try an herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, a more floral Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a crisp, mineral and citrusy Vermentino or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo instead.

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Here’s an other one from the country vacation folder. As usual it’s easy to make and can quickly be thrown together.

Pissaladière is a Niçoise onion tart eaten as an appetizer. The classic version does not have tomatoes and takes longer to prepare as you need to compote the onions first. Here I’ve made it with store-bought puff pastry which I had lying around but bread dough is more traditional.

Roma tomatoes over puff pastry, topped with homegrown golden oregano.
Just out of the BBQ.

Ingredients

  • store-bought puff pastry dough
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 6 Italian plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oil-cured black olives, sliced or left whole
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh oregano
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh thyme
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat BBQ on highest setting.

Thinly roll out the dough and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Spread the garlic, tomatoes, onions, olive and herbs out evenly on the dough. Spray with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to the lowest setting and put the Pissaladière in the BBQ. Bake with the lid closed for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

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The first fresh shell peas of summer are a gorgeous thing. This super fast and simple recipe is all about them.

Fresh shell pea soup garnished with pea shoots and peas.

Ingredients

  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 french shallot, chopped
  • 700 ml (3 cups) fresh shelled peas
  • 1 L (4 cups) homemade mild vegetable stock
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) soy cooking cream
  • 1 spring fresh lemon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish to taste

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh pea shoots
  • Chopped chives
  • Croutons

Directions

In a stockpot, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallot and sautée until soft, about 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil, add peas then reduce to a simmer. Cover pot and cook until peas are soft, about 7 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add soy cream. Blend soup with stick blender, or process in a blender until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with your choice of ingredients.

This soup is also nice served chilled garnished with plain soy yogurt and mint.

Chilled fresh pea soup with mint and soy yogurt.

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Bean tostada

Here’s an other “it’s too hot to bother with cooking” summer meal.

The tortilla was crisped in the oven instead of fried then topped with homemade bean chili which was kicking around the back of the freezer. I added chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and onions then some chipotle salsa and garnished it with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime. Vegan crema or cheese could be added but I didn’t feel the need.

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Just in time for summer, when I rarely feel like firing up the stove, the kitchen gods have sent me a new dehydrator. It’s been going non-stop for the last 3 days. Here’s what’s cooking.

Mango raspberry “leather”
Next up: zucchini “bacon” and dill & vinegar zucchini chips
BBQ kale chips
Ginger sesame kale chips

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Choose smallest, most tender, violet or poivrade baby artichokes for this recipe. This smaller variety has almost no choke and the inner half is very tender and are entirely edible. They have a mild bitter taste with notes of hazelnut.

Baby purple artichoke salad

Ingredients

  • 16 baby artichokes cleaned and very thinly sliced
  • Vinegar or lemon juice for soaking
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, more as necessary
  • 1 Purple shallots, minced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the artichokes carefully. Remove the outer leaves, cut off the top 1/2 cm (1/4 inch). Slice thinly with mandoline. As each artichoke is finished, drop slices into a bowl of cold water with about 10 percent vinegar or lemon juice.

Prepare the vinaigrette:  In a bowl, combine the zest and lemon juice, olive oil, shallots. Reserve.

Remove artichoke slices from water and dry. Toss with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley and serve.

For a variation, you could had thinly sliced cultivated mushrooms to the artichokes and serve on a bed of aragula.

Serves 4

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Yesterday I woke up craving crab cakes, god only knows why. Here’s the outcome. I should be good for an other 3 years or so. Or maybe not, those were pretty good.

Vegan crab cake with cilantro lime mayo and Sriracha sauce.

Ingredients

250 ml (1 cup) bread crumbs
250 ml (1 cup) non-dairy milk
450 gr (1 lb) firm tofu, drained well and mashed
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
125 ml (1/2 cup) wakame seaweed, rehydrated and chopped finely
4 green onions, thinly sliced
60 ml (1/4 cup) fresh parsley, chopped
60 ml (1/4 cup)fresh dill, chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup vegetarian nuoc nam
1/2 tsp dried thyme
couple dashes chili sauce
salt and black pepper to taste

Extra bread crumbs for coating

In a bowl, combine 1 cup bread crumbs and milk.

Using a blender or food processor, cream 1/4 of the tofu. Add this to the bread crumbs and milk mixture along with all other ingredients and mix well. Go easy with the salt as the seaweed and vege nuoc nam are quite salty. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Form into 16 cakes. Coat in the remaining bread crumbs. Bake on a cookie sheet coated with oil, turning once or, pan fry until golden.

Makes 8 generous appetizer.

Note: You can buy vegetarian nuoc nam in large Asian supermarkets. If it is unavailable substitute with 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice + 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar. But try to get your hands on it, it’s really great stuff.

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Last weekend we had a potluck dinner party. Most of guests weren’t vegetarian but as it was in celebration of my birthday and I’m blessed with the most awesome friends ever, they all made killer vegan dishes.

I made tofu saté and spicy peanut sauce because it’s a good finger food that relatively easy on non-vegetarians.

Saté tofu & spicy peanut sauce

Here’s my absolute favourite saté recipe. The richness of the marinade really transforms the tofu into something flavourful and delicious.

Ingredients

2 blocks of firm tofu

marinade:

250 ml (1 cup) thick coconut milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) sesame oil
60 ml  (1/4 cup) kecap manis sweet soy sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) sambal chili sauce
115 ml (1/2 cup) ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon grass
15 ml (1 tbsp) curry powder
5 ml (1 tsp) ground coriander
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cummin
juice of half a lime

sauce:

250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk
15 ml (1 tbsp) creamy peanut butter
10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) red curry paste
5 ml (1 tsp) lemon juice
pinch of salt

Instructions

Place all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Cut tofu blocks lengthwise into 6 slices each. Set aside in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

Pour the marinade over the tofu, cover, refrigerate overnight and up to 2 days, turning 2 or 3 times.

Preheat the grill to medium hot. Skewer the tofu onto wooden sticks and grill the satés for 8-10 minutes or until they are brown, basting with the remaining marinade and turning 2 or 3 times during the cooking period.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients into a small saucepan and gently simmer for a few minutes until thick.

Serve warm.

fresh rolls
sushi
aromatic salad
avocado salad
quinoa salad
beet & apple salad
seaweed salad
citrus “ribs”

Here’s some of the other dishes we had on the table. There was so much food we hardly made a dent in it. We also had loads of wine and saké but I didn’t document, I was too busy eating and drinking…

Thanks again for an awesome night.

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I had some leftover fire roasted Piquillo peppers in the fridge and instead of eating it straight from the can and then drinking the juice (it was very tempting) I decided to make a simple lunch of it.

I made a tostada with good crusty bead, toasted and spread generously with a roasted garlic purée, then I layered on the peppers and Dr Cow aged cashew cheese and drizzle with good Spanish olive oil. Served with a simple green salad, it made for an awesome lunch.

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How many times can I post variations of beet salad you ask? Many, obviously! I just don’t tire of beets. If it isn’t the case for you, please come back later, I will have other non-beet posts up soon.

Golden beets with homemade soy “cheese”

These gorgeous little golden beets were baked whole, peel on, in a covered cast iron dutch oven, thus saving the aluminium foil from the trash can and concentrating the delicious flavour of these awesome roots. Once they’re cooked and cooled, the peel comes off super easily.

In this recipe, the faux cheese is leftover vegan ricotta beefed up with a little fermented bean curd for added sharpness. Cashew cheese or creamed Dr Cow aged cashew cheese would also be very good matches here. Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil, smoked Maldon salt and some chopped parsley.

Enjoy your beets!

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This roasted vegetable tian makes a nice appetizer or side. No recipe. I roasted all the vegetables individually and then assembled the structure. From the bottom up: roasted eggplant, fired roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms deglazed  with Amontillado Jerez, roasted zucchini, roasted cherry tomatoes.

The sauce in a simple purée of fresh basil leaves, olive oil and a little lemon juice. Garnished with organic sun-dried Peruvian olives which are the best cured olives I’ve ever tasted.

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Here’s the last bit of the Japanese dinner. Look at the previous 3 posts for the entire menu.

Robata Yaki is grilled food, this time okra, asparagus and scallions. It could not be easier. Just brush veges with a little oil and grill on the BBQ or in the oven. You can baste the food with the yaki sauce or simply serve with a little sea salt.

I forgot to shoot of the asparagus, sorry!

Yaki sauce

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sake
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) mirin
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) sugar
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) Japanese soy sauce

In a large pot, bring the sake and mirin to a boil. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Reduce heat, add soy sauce and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Maitake, bunashimeji and shiitake mushrooms baked en papillote with sesame oil, sake and garlic.

Cultivated Japanese mushrooms are not quite as fragrant as wild mushrooms but they’re now easy to come by. Hokto Kinoko, a Japanese producer, opened a mushroom “farm” in the USA in 2009. Their organic mushrooms are cultivated on a substrate made of non-genetically-modified ground corn cobs and rice bran, packaging is kept to a minimum and they’re relatively cheap at $2-3 per 3.5 oz package.

Mushroom papillote before and after baking.

This dish is usually made with butter which I have replaced here with dark sesame oil.

Ingredients

  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) bunapi shimeji (white beech mushrooms)
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) buna shimeji (brown beech mushrooms)
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) maitake mushrooms (hen of the woods)
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) dark sesame oil
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) saké
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) smoked sea salt
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges

Preparation

Separate shimeji and maitake into small clumps, slice the shiitake. Assemble the mushrooms on a large piece of parchment kitchen paper or foil, add garlic, sesame oil, sake and sea salt. Cover with an other piece of parchment paper or foil and seal well. Bake at 175C (350F) for 30 minutes. Open the papillote carefully, transfer its content to a serving plate and garnish with lemon wedges.

Now pour yourself an other glass of saké and enjoy!

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Continuing with Saturday’s Japanese dinner, here are a couple more recipes.

Cha soba noodles with traditional garnishes

Cha soba is green tea flavoured soba. Here it’s served cold with various garnishes and dipping sauce.

Ingredients

  • 240 gr (half pound) dry green tea soba noodles
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) sesame oil
  • 1 sheet nori, toasted and cut into match sticks
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 cm (1″) piece of ginger, grated
  • wasabi paste

Dipping sauce

  • 350 ml (1½ cups) water
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) Japanese soy sauce
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) mirin
  • 2 ml (½ tsp) sugar

Preparation

Cook noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until done but still firm. Carefull not to over cook them. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain well. Transfer to a bowl, toss with sesame oil and seeds.

In the oven or better, over an open flame, toast nori sheet then use scissors to cut into match sticks.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool.

Arrange noodles on 4 plates, sprinkle with nori. Serve with individual bowls of dipping sauce. Present green onion, ginger and wasabi paste separately so people can garnish as they like.

Serves 4

Nasu dengaku

(grilled eggplant with miso glaze)

This is classic Izakaya fare. If you can’t find Japanese eggplants use any other young and small eggplants.

For grilled eggplant

  • 4 small Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
  • vegetable oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds

For glaze

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dashi
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) mirin
  • 60 ml (1/4  cup) white miso
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) corn starch
  • yuzu kosho pepper to taste (optional)

Start by making the glaze. Combine dashi, sugar, mirin, miso and corn starch together. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in yuzu.

Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and score the flesh to grab the sauce. Brush with oil and grill on a BBQ or under a broiler until the tops are a nice brown and the eggplant is cooked but still quite firm.

Cover the cut side with the glaze, sprinkle with sesame seeds and put under the broiler until caramelized (watch it, this happens very fast and you don’t want to burn them).

Serves 4

Variation

This glaze is quite delicious on very fresh grilled tofu (the stuff you buy from vendor in Chinatown not the bricks of rubber you find at the grocer).

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Here is the second part of Saturday’s Japanese dinner. For the full menu and a list of sakés, please have a look at part 1.

Sushi

For many, a Japanese dinner without sushi is unthinkable, so we had sushi. Good and easy finger food. I won’t include a recipe here as there are hundreds of places online where you’ll find good, detailed instructions on sushi making.

Takuan (pickled daikon radish) and  ume (pickled Japanese plum) + cucumber sushi are classic vegetable rolls. Avocado + yamagobo rolls are my creation, I think, as I’ve never seen them out there.

Yamagobo isn’t pickled carrot has I’ve heard it described before but pickled burdock root. Its crisp texture, mild bitterness and earthy flavour complement the rich and creamy avocado very well or at least that’s my non-Japanese-chef appreciation of it. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

Cucumber, wakame and tororo sunomono

Sunomono is a vinegary vegetable salad. This version had cucumber and 2 kinds of seaweed. Tart and refreshing, it’s a good palate cleanser after a richer dish.

Tororo konbu is a little harder to find but so worth it. I don’t think there’s any substitute for its flavour and texture. It’s basically kelp soaked in vinegar for a day, dried and shaved into hair thin silvery filaments.  It’s used in soups, as a flavouring for rice balls and in sunomono. I’m thinking smoked Tororo konbu could make an interesting substitute for bonito flakes (tuna, therefore not vegan) omnipresent in Japanese cooking. I’ll have to experiment with that.

Ingredients

  • 1 small cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 250 ml (1 cup) wakame seaweed, soaked, drained and cut into 5 cm (2″) pieces
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) dry tororo konbu seaweed, torn up.
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) rice wine vinegar
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

Preparation

Put the cucumber in a bowl, add salt and set aside for 20 minutes. Squeeze cucumber to drain well. Mix vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Add wakame and cucumber and mix well.  Serve garnished with tororo konbu.

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Saturday night, after a little excursion to Mitsuwa, we had a Izakaya style dinner. Lots of small plates to go with several different sakés. Sort of like Japanese tapas.

On the menu was:

  • Miso soup with tiny cubes of melt-in-your-mouth tofu
  • Takuan,  ume + cucumber, avocado + yamagobo sushis
  • Cucumber, wakame, tororo sunomono (seaweed  salad)
  • Cold cha soba with garnishes
  • Nasu dengaku (grilled eggplant with miso glaze)
  • Robata Yaki okra, asparagus and scallions
  • Maitake, bunashimeji and shiitake mushrooms baked en papillote with sesame oil, sake and garlic served with a squeeze of lemon

Mitsuwa has a massive selection of sakés… We went a little nuts! They were the main attraction at dinner of course and though we didn’t quite polish off these 4 bottles we never the less over indulged.

Umenishiki
Junmai Daiginjo Nama
Ehime, Japan
500 ml
$28
Aromas of ripe tropical fruit. Off dry.

Shirakawago Sasanigori
Junmai Ginjo Nigori
Gifu, Japan
300 ml
$11
As all Nigori, this saké is unfiltered which gives it a cloudy white look with a sweeter, mild and fruity aroma.  Floral and apple notes. Would also be great with spicy dishes.

Ohyama
Tokubetsu Junmai
Yamagata, Japan
720 ml
$27
Full-bodied, medium-dry. Notes of apricot and almond.

Rin Draft Saké
Nama
Fukushima, Japan
500 ml
$17

Brewed from 100% organic rice. Rich, creamy and buttery aromas.

All were served chilled.


Starting at the beginning, here’s a recipe for dashi, the base of much Japanese Cuisine.

Vegan Dashi (Soup Stock)

Ingredients

  • 1 liter (4 cups) water
  • 15 cm (6″) piece of kombu
  • 3 dry shiitake mushroom
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) mirin
  • 30 ml  (2 tbsp) shoyu

Directions

Rinse off kombu if necessary. Put the water in a pot, add kombu and shiitake and soak for 1 hour.

Bring nearly to the boil, simmer gently for 20 mins. Remove kombu, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove shiitake and reserve for other use.

That’s it. Now you’ve got a tasty dashi.

Next we’ll use this dashi to make miso soup.

Miso Soup with tofu and scallions

Ingredients

  • 750 ml (3 cups) dashi soup stock
  • 150 gr (5 oz) silken tofu
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) miso paste
  • 3 scallions, thinly chopped

Preparation

Put dashi soup stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Cut tofu into small cubes and add them to the soup and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Dissolve the miso in a small amount of hot dashi and add to the soup. Add Scallions, stir and serve.

Remember never to boil the soup after the miso is added or you will kill all the good stuff.

Serves 4

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These would go very well with the delicious Ghost of Mary cocktails we had this weekend.

The closest thing to a recipe:

Peel and thinly slice celery roots. Dress with a marinade made of olive oil, rosemary, garlic, a touch of agave nectar and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Add smoked sea salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a couple of hours then spread on your dehydrator trays and dehydrate until very crispy, approximately 6 to 10 hours.

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Be warned, as most pâté, this stuff is very high in fat. It’s best eaten spread on good bread. A little grain mustard or a bit of onion compote tops it off nicely.

The preparation is a bit long when you take into account the confit but don’t skip that step, it brings this rather simple vegetable spread to an other level.

Decadent Autumn Terrine

100 gr (3,5 oz) preserved roasted chestnuts
2 medium parsnip, thickly sliced
1 medium parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced length wise
500 ml (2 cups) fresh chanterelles, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 French shalot, minced
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of oil (I used a mixture of olive and canola)
30 ml (2 tbs) black truffle oil
100 ml (1/2 cup) dry Amontillado Jerez
5 ml (1tsp) sweet smoked Spanish paprika
5 ml (1tsp) fresh sage, chopped
5 ml (1tsp) fresh thyme, chopped
smoked sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 107°C (225°F). In a covered ceramic cocotte, arrange the thin, long parsnip slices in a single layer, add the thicker slices over top. Pour the mixed oils over the parsnip to cover and place the confit in the oven. Cook slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the parsnip is tender but not browned, 2-3 hours. Remove from the oven and cool. Reserve.  Alternatively, you could do this step in a slow cook set on the very lowest heat for 3-4 hours.

In a sauteing pan, cook the shalot and garlic on medium heat for a minute, add the chanterelles and cook until done. Add Jerez, stir well and cook until all liquid is evaporated.

Line a small rectangular dish (mine is 6x13x5 cm) with parchment paper cut to size. Cover the bottom and sides with a single layer of thin confit parsnip slices. Be careful while handling them as they’ll be super fragile.

In a food processor put the chestnuts, remaining parsnip confit, chanterelle mixture, paprika, sage, thyme, salt and pepper and just enough of the confit oil for the blades to turn and process until you have a thick paste. Transfer this mixture to the lined dish and refrigerate overnight to allow flavours to combine well. The terrine will set as it cools.


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I use to really love cheese. I’m talking about seasonal, unpasteurized, ripe and pungent, 50%+ milk fat, eat with a spoon AOC cheese, not the melted plastic gunk standard on slices and nachos. I’ve tried pretty much every vegan imitation out there and they all suck. At least that’s what I thought until I tasted  Dr Cow raw organic nut cheeses about a year ago and became an instant fan.

Their cheeses are aged in a similar way as real cheese and made with nothing but nuts, water, probiotics and salt.  It’s unctuous and buttery tasting with a nice acidity reminiscent of a young chèvre and when it ages it acquires a bit of sharpness. Like all artisan cheese it is produced in small quantity making it a bit pricey. Getting your hands on it can be quite tricky even here in Brooklyn where it is made.

Dr Cow cheeseA sampling of Dr Cow nut cheeses

In the same order as the above photo:

Aged Macadamia
$12  /  73 gr
Nice acidity, mildly tannic, macadamia flavour is very present, mild, long after taste. Thicker almost sticky mouth feel. Texture is like a softer hard cheese, a little grainy.

Aged Cashew &Brazil nuts
$8.50  / 70 gr

Lower acidity, mildly tannic, stronger nut flavours and less cheesy then others. Seemed to be too young. Short after taste. Texture is rich and slightly grainy.

Aged Cashew & hemp seeds
$8.50 /  70 gr

Nice acidity, mild (I was looking forward to the advertised sharpness but none here today), creamy with mild bitterness from hemp seeds. Mid length after taste.

Aged Cashew & herbs
$8.50 / 70 gr
As above with a strong herb taste, oregano dominates. Would be nice on pizza or in a Greek salad.

Aged Cashew
$8.50 / 70 g

Nice acidity, mild and rounder nut taste, mid length aftertaste. Nice body. Firm but creamy texture.

I’ve had this particular nut cheese several times before.  I prefer it much older when it is firmer, the lactic taste is better developed and it has acquired a nice sharpness.

Today all these cheeses were very mild (the flavours of the sourdough bread overpowered them at times) and appeared to be a little too young compare to other batches I’ve add.  I prefer them older and would give them all at least 3-4 weeks more aging time.

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This is from a few weeks ago when the last tomatoes were harvested.

Roasted heirloom tomato

Not much of a recipe. Just a thick slice of perfectly ripe tomato lightly seasoned with minced garlic, salt and pepper and oven roasted for about 20 minutes. Plated with oven dried black olives, a drizzle of Arbequina olive oil and some chopped oregano.

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I’ve been experimenting with the “bacon” recipes that are floating around. Simple, easy to make and awesome in a tomato sandwich which is pretty much the only thing I can bother with these days.

The 1st one is the classic eggplant version. Nika explains the process very well on her site Raw & Simple. Make sure you slice the eggplant real thin and cure it well or you will be disappointed.eggplant baconzucchini bacon

This second one is a variation using zucchini. Faster since there’s no need to cure them first and crunchier. I think I prefer them. Try them both!

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