July 29, 2008

Aloo Gobhi

This recipe is for Kristen, a friend of us who lives in Connecticut. She's not tolerant at all with spicy food but would like to try a curry/Indian dish. This dish is not too spicy, and is very forgiving with the amount of chillies used. Aloo Gobhi literally means potato (Aloo) and cauliflower (Gobhi) in Hindi. This dish is really a spiced potato and cauliflower dish, not SPICY potato and cauliflower dish. So, for those that can't stand the heat of curry or Indian food this is the dish for you. This dish is good with chappati, naan, rice or even toast.

1 medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
5 medium sized potatoes
1 green chili, sliced (adjust to taste)
1 cup frozen green pea, thawed
2 cup cherry tomato or 1 cup chopped tomato
1 medium sized onion, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

Boil potatoes with skin on in a pot. When potatoes are cooked, peel skin and cut into bite size pieces. Set aside. Boil cauliflower for 3 minutes, or until al dente. Set aside.

Heat oil on medium heat. Add cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies. Fry until onions are translucent. Add curry powder and turmeric powder. Fry for 1 minute and then add potatoes, cauliflower and tomatoes. Add water. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes. Add green peas. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in coriander leaves. Serve.

July 28, 2008

Easy Strawberry and Cream Tartlets

I bought 2 boxes of strawberries last week and it seems like they are not gonna make it in a few days. So, I chopped them up and use them to make a filling. It's less forgiving than slicing them and using them on top pies. You can make the tartlet shells from scratch but then it wouldn't be "Easy Strawberry and Cream Tartlets". The tartlets came out a bit browner than I would have loved it to be but nonetheless, tasty.

24 frozen tart shells
Whipped cream for topping

For strawberry filling:
3 cups strawberries, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 lime, for zests and juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until filling thickens, about 20 minutes. Set aside and let filling cool. This makes about 2 cups of filling.

Bake frozen tart shells according to instructions. Remove from oven when shells starts to turn brownish, usually about 15-20 minutes. Fill shells with a tablespoon of strawberry filling.

Turn oven to 375 °F and return the tartlets into the oven for another 10 minutes. Let tartlets cool. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

July 25, 2008

Mushroom Gravy

This is my favorite gravy recipe for meatless meatloaf, mashed potato or anything that calls for gravy! It is thicken by roux, a French sauce thickening technique where you fry flour with lard or oil to create a thickening base. Some people are afraid to make roux sauces but trust me, it is easy. Two tips to remember: Always keep the flame low so you don't burn the flour and stir constantly. If you remember to do both then you will have no problem making roux sauces. Here's my recipe for Mushroom Gravy. To make this a vegan recipe, simply omit milk and use 3 cups of water instead of 2 cups.

1 box baby Bella mushrooms (10 oz.), sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped garlic
5 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 can (14 oz.) vegetable broth or chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add bay leaves. Cook until onion starts to brown in the edges. Add in flour. Lower the heat. Stir constantly until it turns into a paste consistency.

Keep stirring constantly and fry the flour paste until it turns brown and smells nutty (it should have the same color as a pie crust and smell like one). Set the roux aside.

Using the same saucepan, add in sliced mushrooms. Sweat mushrooms until they are soft. Moisture from the mushroom will deglaze the saucepan, so don't worry about bits of roux stuck in the saucepan. Add broth and let it boil. Return the roux into the saucepan. Stir and combine the roux with the broth. Add water and milk. Keep stirring so the sauce doesn't burn. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Meatless meatloaf or mashed potato.

July 24, 2008

Meatless Meatloaf

I’ve been making this vegetarian meatloaf for Thanksgiving substituting a turkey for the past 2 years now and everyone loves it. Of course you don’t have to wait till Thanksgiving to make this tasty and easy dish. Don’t be scared by the list of ingredients either, all you need is to assemble them and the rest is mix and bake! What's easier than recipe with pictures, right?

This can be modified into a vegan recipe by substituting eggs with cornstarch. You can make this for dinner and use the leftovers for sandwich with ketchup and mustard. It keeps for about a week.

Ingredients (A)

2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups baby Bella mushroom, chopped
2 cups carrot, shredded
2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ tablespoon dried pepper flakes
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (B)

2 boxes silk tofu (19 oz. each), mashed
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cups instant mashed potato flakes
2 eggs, slightly beaten (for vegan recipe: substitute eggs by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoon of water)
1 packet Lipton Onion soup and dip mix
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Heat oil and sauté onion and garlic. When onion looks translucent, add basil, oregano and pepper flakes. Fry for a few seconds and then add celery, green pepper and mushroom. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrot and fry until the mixture is dry. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and let it cool.

Combine Ingredient (B) in a large mixing bowl. If your mashed tofu is lumpy, you can whisk it for a few seconds until it smooths out.

Fold in Ingredient (A). Preheat oven to 380 ºF. Grease two loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Fold mixture into the loaf pans and bake for an hour or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve with gravy or ketchup and mustard.

July 23, 2008

Kabocha Curry

Vance once had kabocha curry before in a Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant in Chinatown and has been craving them ever since. The restaurant is no longer in business and I have never tasted the dish before so recreating it is rather difficult. Here is my version of the kabocha curry. I don't want to make it too spicy so you can actually taste the sweetness of the kabocha. Vance hates Japanese curry because it is thickened by "roux" instead of coconut milk and he doesn't like the consistency. So, this is a modified Japanese curry that's thickened by coconut milk instead of roux.

1 small kabocha, leave the skin on and cut into cubes.
2 cups baby carrots.
1 cup celery, chopped.
2 cups frozen green peas, thawed.
1 medium sized onion, quartered and chopped.
2 cloves garlic, chopped.
2 cups water.
1 can coconut milk (480 mL).
3 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sugar.
salt to taste.

Ingredients (A)
1/2 cup water.
1/2 cup curry powder.
2 tablespoon red chili powder.

Heat oil on high heat. Add onion and garlic, fry until onion is translucent. Combine ingredients (A) into a curry paste. Lower the heat to medium and add curry paste. Fry for a few minutes until aromatic. Add kabocha, carrots, celery and 2 cups of water. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add coconut milk, sugar and salt. Cook for another 15 minutes. Add green peas and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Serve warm with white rice.

July 21, 2008

Mushrooms and Shrimp Stir Fry

I love mushrooms, any kind of mushrooms. My favorite are to make stir fry out of them or sauteing them. Just omit the shrimp if you want to make it vegetarian. Marinating shrimp with corn starch and sugar will prevent it from becoming dry and chewy. Instead, it gives it a nice and crunchy texture. The corn starch also act as a thickening agent when it's returned into the dish. This is a great dish to eat with steamed rice. You can get Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce or Vegetarian Mushroom Flavored Stir-Fry Sauce from local Asian supermarkets.

4 cups of mushrooms (I used a variety of fresh Shiitake, Oyster and King Oyster).
3 cloves garlic, chopped.
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced thinly horizontally.
1 cup onions, sliced.
2 tablespoon oil.
2 tablespoon Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce or Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Mushroom Flavored Stir-Fry Sauce.
3 tablespoon soy sauce.
2 tablespoon sesame oil.
3/4 cup water.
salt and white pepper to taste.

1 lb. peeled shrimp.
1 tablespoon oil.

Ingredients (A)

1 tablespoon soy sauce.
1 teaspoon sugar.
1 tablespoon corn starch.

Marinate shrimp with ingredients (A) for 5 minutes. Heat wok or pan on high flame. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add marinated shrimp when the oil is hot, fry for a few minutes until shrimp turns pink. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp (We're returning the shrimp into the dish so don't worry if it is not fully cooked). Set the shrimp aside.

Heat wok or pan again on high flame. Add 2 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add ginger, onion and garlic. Fry until onions are translucent. Add oyster sauce and soy sauce. Fry until the sauce is bubbly. Add mushrooms. Fry mushrooms for a few minutes. Add water and cover for about 5 minutes (this should sweat the mushrooms and you will end up with more than the initial liquid added into the wok or pan). Return the cooked shrimp and stir. Fry for about 5 minutes until shrimp are fully cooked and sauce thickens. Season with salt and white pepper. Serve warm.

July 7, 2008

Mum's Quick and Easy Onion Soup Dip

Vance's mum, Debbie Marks lives in Woodstock Valley, CT and every time we went up to visit her she would make this dip for us with a bag of potato chips. Vance loves this dip. It's simple and easy, and takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.

Mix 1 tub of sour cream (12 oz.) and 1 packet onion soup mix in a dip bowl. Let it stand for about an hour so moisture inside the sour cream rehydrates the bits and pieces of dried onions in the soup mix. Serve with potato chips, crackers or vegetables (cut into sticks) such as celeries, carrots, peppers and cucumbers. This dip can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

July 6, 2008

Alex and Kristen's Pancakes

Our friends Kristen and Alex made us really good pancakes when we stayed over at their house in Andover, CT. She e-mailed me this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Enjoy.

Prepare and preheat your griddle (or skillet)
Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together, mixing just until combined. If you wish, fold in one of the following:
1/2 cup plump raisins or other very finely dried fruit
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries or rasberries
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts, toasted
1/2 cup thinly sliced bananas
1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup shredded semi-sweetened dried coconut
1/4 cup grated semisweet or milk chocolate

Spoon 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake, nudging the batter into rounds. Cook until the top of each pancake is speckled with bubbles and some bubbles have popped open, then turn and cook until the underside is lightly browned. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you finish cooking the rest. Serve with maple syrup or honey and pats of butter.

Makes 12, 5 inch cakes.