Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mushroom Carpaccio - Two Ways! (Chive-Lemon OR Tomato-Basil)

Quick & simple Mushroom Carpaccio may be made two or more ways; they are similar in that both start out with sliced mushrooms; one is simply dressed with a lemon-garlic dressing the other with a more complex tomato-balsamic-basil dressing. These make excellent starters, side dishes or potluck contributions. 

I  Mushroom Carpaccio With Garlic, Lemon & Chives

Ingredients:

8 oz. Large Brown or White Mushrooms
1 small clove Garlic, peeled and mashed
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 - 1 Lemon, juiced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp Fresh Chives, chopped

Method:

Combine the oil, garlic, 1/2 the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the stems as needed and thinly slice.

Arrange the mushroom slices on a platter or on individual plates. Drizzle the dressing evenly over them. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Taste one piece of the marinated mushrooms. Sprinkle a little more lemon, extra salt or pepper as needed.

Scatter the chives over the mushrooms and serve. Enjoy!

II Mushroom Carpaccio With Tomatoes & Basil

This one may be prepared two ways: serve the tomato basil dressing on slices of mushrooms as given below or layer the mushrooms, tomato and basil and drizzle the dressing made from balsamic vinegar, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. 

Ingredients:

8 oz  Large Brown or White Mushrooms
1 Lemon, Juiced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove fresh Garlic, mashed
2 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, finely diced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1 Small bunch Fresh Basil
Fresh Chives, for garnishing

Method:

Combine the tomatoes, 1 Tbsp of the oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and salt.  Use a pepper grinder to add freshly ground pepper. Mix well. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the ends of stems and thinly slice.

Lightly brush a large platter with lemon juice. Arrange the mushroom slices on the platter and brush more of the lemon juice over them evenly. If making ahead, prepare upto this step and assemble the carpaccio a few minutes (not more than 30 minutes) before serving.

Spoon the dressing attractively and evenly over the mushroom slices. Drizzle the rest of the oil evenly over the veggies.

Decorate with the chives and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Roasted Pumpkin Bisque (Simple & Delicious Creamy Pumpkin Soup)

A super simple and delicious creamy soup based on Peruvian pumpkin soup we enjoyed. Sadly we don't get the same kind of pumpkin outside of Peru; but there are other flavorful ones we can use! Although my favorites are butternut or kabocha, I have used various pumpkins and winter squashes with delicious results; Buttercup, Castilla, Banana squash or any other sweet flavorful pumpkin or pumpkin-like veggie will work well.

Note: Do include a little red pepper (cayenne) to enhance the sweetness of the pumpkin.
If you are toasting the seeds yourself, saute them in a little olive oil and add a pinch or two of thyme, red pepper and a little sprinkle of salt towards the end for a flavorful treat! Croutons are a delicious option for topping the soup.

6 - 8 Servings

About 3 lbs Pumpkin (see suggestions above)
1 Medium Orange fleshed Sweet Potato (aka yam)
1 Tbsp Oil + a little for roasting
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 tsp Dry
1 pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red Chile powder (cayenne)
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 cup Coconut Milk (optional)
6 - 7 cups boiling Water
4 Tbsp Coconut Milk OR Coconut Cream for Garnishing
4 Tbsp Toasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash and sweet potato into 1/2" cubes.

Place the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in a lightly oiled pan with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and stir to coat. Sprinkle the turmeric and thyme over the veggies. Roast until the veggies are tender and begin to caramelize a little, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Puree the the roasted veggies with the nutmeg, cayenne, and coconut milk using a food processor, traditional or an immersion blender; pureeing may need to be done in batches if using a regular blender. If using a blender, some of the boiling water may be needed to process.

Pour the puree into a large soup pot with more of the boiling water a little at a time to get the right consistency without making the soup too thin. Warm the soup gently and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.

The soup should be thick and creamy; but if it looks too thick, add a small ladle or two of boiling water but not too much.

Check the seasonings, add salt and a few grinds of black pepper if needed.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a little swirl of coconut milk/cream and the toasted seeds.

Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Warm Noodles & Veggie Salad With Sriracha Tofu & Garlic-Ginger Dressing (Asian Style)

Warm Noodle & Vegetable Salad is very versatile; it is easy to prepare ahead and makes a fabulous main meal for busy days or potlucks. Colorful, tasty and filling, everyone loves it, me included!

If you want to avoid too much soy in the diet, use panfried Burmese Tofu. Tofu, nuts/seeds, noodles, and the abundance of assorted veggies make for a very satisfying meal. Use a combination or a single type of nuts or seeds.

All the ingredients can be prepared ahead including the dressing and kept separately; mix when ready to serve. Although I prefer freshly cooked and cooled pasta, it can be precooked also and brought to room temperature by removing from the fridge about 30-45 minutes before serving before mixing.

Notes: Do include Napa Cabbage; it adds a lacy look and lots of crunch! Other veggies like kale, leeks, baby bok choi, Edamame (young green soy beans), broccoli, as well as finely sliced or coarsely shredded turnips, sugar-snaps or snow pea pods etc. make great additions also.

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 large Carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Daikon radish, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Red Onion, thinly slivered
1 tsp Oil
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1-2 Persian type Cucumbers, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 small Red Cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 small Napa/Green Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 small Romaine Lettuce heart, thinly sliced
1 bunch Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 bunch fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped
8 oz Cappellini (Angel Hair Pasta) OR Spaghetti
1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges to serve

Sriracha Tofu or Roasted Tofu with only the following spices/condiments
1 block firm Tofu (14-16 oz)
1 pinch Turmeric
1 generous pinch Salt
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

Topping:
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp Slivered Almonds
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Peanuts/Cashews, coarsely chopped

Dressing:
1/2" knob of fresh Ginger, chopped
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp firmly packed Jaggery, Coconut sugar, OR Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Tbsp Asian Toasted Sesame Oil

Method:

Make the Dressing:  Place ginger, garlic, brown sugar, black pepper, rice vinegar and soy sauce in the carafe of a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a clean jar, add a spoonful of water into the carafe to gather every bit of the ginger and garlic and add to the jar along with the rest of the ingredients - the oils. Shake well to mix and taste. Adjust soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and pepper. Cover tightly with a lid and store in the fridge until needed.

Prepare sriracha or Roasted Tofu. If making sauteed tofu, drain the tofu well, wrap in paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible, then cut into cubes or batons. Heat a skillet, add a spoonful of oil just to coat the bottom of the skillet, add tofu pieces with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes, turn each piece to an uncooked side, and repeat so all the the sides are slightly golden - a couple of minutes per side over medium heat. Stir together a tablespoon of soy sauce and sriracha sauce and drizzle over the tofu, continue to cook tossing to coat all the pieces evenly. If made ahead, cool and chill. Warm in a skillet or in the microwave.

Make the Salad: Wash all the veggies well and prepare them as directed; some are sliced, some are cubed, etc. Keep the radish and carrots separate. Place the rest of the veggies in the bowl and mix well. If made ahead, the veggies may be chilled until needed.

Toast the nuts/seeds for Topping: Toast all the seeds/nuts individually using a dry skillet (no oils). As each one is done pour onto a large plate to cool. Add the roasted cashews and peanuts. cover and keep at room temp until needed.

Cook the Pasta/noodles: Boil some water with a little salt, add pasta and cook according to manufactures' directions. Drain. Add a teaspoon of oil and mix well so the pasta does not stick or clump.

Assembly

Heat a large wok, skillet or pot with the oil; stir in onion, carrots and daikon with a pinch of salt and cook until warmed through - about 1 minute or so.

Tip the pasta into the warm veggies, and turn to coat with the oil and mix well. Turn off the heat.

Add the rest of the prepared veggies along with half of the dressing and toss well. Taste and add more dressing, salt & pepper etc as needed.

Divide into large shallow bowls and top with a few tofu pieces and some of the toasted nuts/seeds.

Serve immediately.  Pass the lime wedges and extra dressing to drizzle as desired.

Eat! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Simple Kadapa (Dal & Veggie Stew With Coconut)

Kadapa With Idlis
Kadapa is a very tasty and flavorful saucy korma type of stew to accompany Idli and Dosa instead of the usual Sambar! It is very similar to Poricha Kuzhambu or Molagutal. Kadapa is delicious with roti/pooris as well as served over cooked grains. Coconut, fennel seeds, and lime juice add a lovely flavor to the stew.

NOTE: If grinding coconut is not an option, use 1 cup of coconut milk instead of the fresh/frozen/dry. If you prefer, onions and garlic may be omitted. Cumin seeds may be used instead of the fennel.

4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

Grind together:
1/2 cup fresh/frozen Coconut (1/3 cup dried)
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Green Chile, Serrano type
4 - 5 Raw Cashew nuts or a small handful of cashew pieces
1/2 tsp uncooked rice OR roasted Gram Dal (Pottu kadalai)

For the Stew:

1/4 to 1/3 cup dry yellow Moong Dal
1 cup Cooked dried Whole Peas, Black-eyed Peas, OR Chickpeas (optional)

1 small Potato, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 handful Green Beans, diced 
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Salt

1 T Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
4 - 6 Shallots OR 1 small Onion, peeled and sliced
2 Green Chiles, sliced 
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves, Garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 stems Fresh Curry leaves, sliced fine
1-2 Tomatoes, diced

1 Lime/Lemon, juiced

Method:

Rinse and cook the dal in enough water to cover until soft; pressure cooking speeds this process.

Grind together the coconut and rest of the ingredients into a smooth paste using a small amount of water. Set aside until needed.

Add the prepared potato and carrots along with turmeric and salt to the dal and cook over low to medium heat until just tender, about 8 - 10 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, heat a small pan and add oil. Stir in mustard seeds and cover until they finish popping.

Stir in asafetida, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and onion; stir and cook until onions soften.

Tip the tomatoes into the onion mixture and cook until soft.

Pour the ground coconut mixture into the dal and veggies; use a small amount of water to collect all of the ground spices and add to the pot.

Add the cooked whole beans/peas, green beans, and the tomato mixture to the dal and veggies. Bring to a boil and cook until green beans are tender - a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the lime/lemon juice to taste. Correct for salt as needed.

Serve hot with Idli, Dosa, etc. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sichuan Style Asparagus with Ginger and Garlic

A simple but delicious dish to enjoy with rice, other grains, or pasta. Other veggies like green beans, long beans, etc may be prepared the same way.

Instead of fresh or dried chiles, red pepper flakes or chili paste may be used.

Ingredients:

1 lb Asparagus
2 Tbsp Oil
1-2 Hot chiles, fresh or dry
1/4 tsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pinch Sugar (optional)
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 pinch Salt & freshly ground pepper
1- 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame seeds for garnish
Cilantro for Garnish

Wash, trim and slice the asparagus into 2" lengths. 

Heat a wok or skillet, add the oil, chiles, asparagus, turmeric, and the pinch of salt; cook stirring until beginning to soften - for about three to four minutes.

Mix in ginger and garlic, cook for about 30 seconds. 

Sprinkle the sugar if using and then the soy sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Add pepper if using and mix well. 

Serve hot garnished with sesame and cilantro. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quick & Easy Thai Red Curry

This tasty curry is so quick and easy to prepare that my family would not believe that it was actually made fresh! Fabulous food for a busy weeknight!

Before prepping the curry, start the rice, grains or pasta cooking and you will have everything ready by the time the curry is finished. If you have leftover cooked grains or noodles, then you can serve even quicker. Delicious over cooked white/brown/red rice, quinoa, couscous, rice noodles, angel hair/linguine/spaghetti etc.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

1 can Coconut Milk
2 -3 T Thai Red Curry Paste
1 - 3 t Coconut OR Brown Sugar
1 tsp Curry Powder (optional)
1/4 t Turmeric
1/2 t Salt
Stems from the Cilantro
1 small Onion, diced large
2 - 3 Carrots, sliced thickly
1 pkg Tofu, cut into 1" cubes
6-8 oz Mushrooms, quartered
4 - 6 Mini Sweet Peppers, sliced
2 cups Baby Spinach OR chopped Cabbage
3 - 4 Scallions, sliced
1 Handful Fresh Cilantro

4 Servings cooked hot Rice, grains or noodles
Roasted Cashews or Peanuts, chopped
Thai Style Chile-Garlic Sauce, to serve

Place coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, curry powder (if using), turmeric and salt in a large pan. Heat stirring to mix the curry paste well into the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, lower heat so the sauce is simmering. 

Add the lower thick stems from the cilantro, onions and carrots to the pot, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. 

Tip the tofu cubes, mushrooms, and peppers into the curry and stir gently to coat; cover. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Top the curry with the spinach/cabbage and scallions; do not stir! Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Let the curry rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in the torn cilantro into the curry and serve.

Divide the hot grains or noodles among 4 wide bowls, ladle the curry on top, sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Pass a little bowl of Thai-Style Chile-Garlic Sauce for those who would like to spice up their curry.

Enjoy!