Monday, February 19, 2018

Chile Oil Sauce Without Borders! (Simple and Delicious Sichuan-Style Dried Red Chili Oil, Relish)

How do I describe the deliciousness of Chile Oil Sauce "Without Borders"? Its toasty, spicy goodness from the two different kinds of peppers (Sichuan and Red) is great on any food, any cuisine - hence the title! We put it pretty liberally on Kanji, Pongal, Pizza, Pastas, Chinese dishes, Mexican food, etc, - anything at all that needs a flavor boost - really takes everything to another level of deliciousness. Stir a little of it into some mayo for a spicy spread for a sandwich or wrap!

Add Chile Oil Sauce to anything that needs a little zip - soups, stews, Dals, Curries, Veggies, Stir-fries, etc, etc - in fact any dish, any cuisine!

It is very easy to make but working with oil, a highly flammable material, you have to stay with it from start to finish. Once prepared the sauce should last a long time - if you don't gobble it all up, that is! Make sure to use a clean, dry, spoon to remove a portion for the recipe or meal; but do not return any unused part back into the original container. 

This recipe is my adaptation of a few different recipes; I made a few changes and tweaks to work for me - especially in reducing the copious amounts of oil some of the recipes use. Although I use the lower amount of oil so the sauce is still easily spoonable but not too oily (believe me, it still has plenty of oil!), you are welcome to use more of it if you wish. 

The spicy oil is very useful in cooking too. Drizzle a little to spice up roasted or stir-fried veggies or tofu instead or as part of the oil used depending on the level of spiciness you like.

I don't add ginger or garlic to this sauce; there is another sauce where I do use them. If you like the chile oil midler, use only half the amount or less of the red chile powder and flakes.

Ingredients:

Infused Oil:
¾  - 1 cup oil (mild flavored vegetable oil)
5 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns (whole)
5 star anise (whole)
3 Tbsp Coriander seeds, whole
2 pieces - 2" - Cinnamon stick, preferably Indian 
3 Bay leaves, broken into 2-3 pieces

Chile Oil Sauce:
2 Tbsp Sichuan pepper - ground coarsely
½ cup Ground Red Chile (Hot Indian Chili Powder Or Cayenne)
½ cup crushed Red Chile flakes 
1½ - 2 teaspoons Salt (to taste)

Method:

First step: Make infused oil.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low - medium heat until hot but not smoking (add a piece of peppercorn - it should barely sizzle); some of the new stoves heat very efficiently so keep an eye on the oil carefully.

Add the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.

When the oil begins to bubble very slightly around the edges of the pan, turn the heat down to very low. The heat may need to be adjusted up or down so the oil stays warm but not too much.

Allow the oil mixture to cook for about 20 minutes so it becomes infused with the spices and herbs. Stay close by and keep a watch - oil is highly flammable!!

When the time is up, the spices and bay leaves should darken in color, but not turn black. Blackened = burned = not tasty!

Turn off heat and let cool undisturbed for 10 minutes; it is still hot so please handle carefully.

In another small saucepan, place the ground Sichuan pepper, red chile powder and red pepper flakes and salt.

Set a fine strainer set over the chile mixture in the saucepan; carefully and slowly pour the infused oil through the strainer into the saucepan

Discard the aromatic spices and herbs left in the strainer; they have done their job to impart their lovely flavors to the oil!

Heat and stir the chile sauce just until fragrant about a minute or so; the edges may begin to bubble  and foam a little; when foamy and fragrant, remove immediately from heat and let cool.

When completely cool, taste and adjust for salt, and transfer to a clean and dry jar, add a well-fitting lid, and store in the refrigerator. 

The sauce will keep fresh for up to 6 months (at our house it disappears long before that!) kept refrigerated and if you remember to use a clean, dry spoon to remove portions to serve. Do not put unused portions back into the jar.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

All American Apple Pie Muesli (Overnight Muesli With Apples & Pecans)

Of course my muesli repertoir has an All American Apple Pie Muesli! Made with delicious apples, pecans, and apple pie spices, and served a la mode, what's not to love?

This muesli isvery similar to other muesli but served warm with a little scoop of non-dairy ice cream!

2 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 Apples, diced
1 Pinch of Salt
1-2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
1 pinch Nutmeg
1 pinch Allspice
1 cup Oatmeal
1/4 cup dried Cranberries
2 cups Non-Dairy Milk, Almond, Soy, or Rice
1/4 cup Pecans, toasted

Optional Toppings
Pure Maple Syrup
Non-Dairy Vanilla or Butter Pecan "Ice Cream"
Non-Dairy Whipped Topping or Cashew Cream
Nutmeg
Extra Pecans
Extra Milk for serving if needed

METHOD:

Combine apples, salt and sugar in a pan and cook until just softened. Stir in all the spices.

Tip in the oatmeal, dried cranberries and milk and mix well; cover and let soak overnight. 

Variation: Pour the prepared muesli into individual containers such as mason jars which can withstand heat, cover with lids, and put in the fridge. Warm until steaming hot when ready to serve. Top with pecans and other toppings and serve.

Warm until steaming hot when ready to serve.

Divide into 2 bowls, top with  ice cream or other topping and the pecans. Drizzle the maple syrup and dust the top with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Serve with more milk if desired. Enjoy!!

Barley, Wheat, & Rice Pongal (Multigrain & Mung Bean Risotto)

Happy Pongal everyone! Join in the celebration of this festival which is similar to Thanksgiving; giving thanks for the Earth, Sun, and all the bounty of the harvest. This Pongal is very similar to Basic Pongal, a wonderful comfort food, quite simple and delicious.

Trying to incorporate healthy ingredients while yet keeping food tasty is quiet a challenge; Multigrain Pongal/Risotto more than rises to it! Although similar to the barley pongal, this one is prepared without any added fat! Paired with a delicious curry of your choice, it makes an awesome meal; the complex carbohydrates, abundant fiber, and proteins from the grains and dal make it filling and satisfying.

This pongal may be made soft or fluffy depending on the amount of water used. Other dals like red lentils, toor dal, or chana dal and grains such as steel cut oats, quinoa, coarse cornmeal/polenta, millet or buckwheat may also be used to make pongal.

Since pongal is very mild, spicy and saucy dishes go well with it; try tomato chutney, one of the Gothsus like the sweet-and-sour Tangerine-Peel Gothsu, a raita, your favorite savory chutneys, or a spicy kuzhambu.

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow Mung Dal, lightly roasted
1/2 cup Barley
1/2 cup Cracked Wheat (#3 grade)
1/2 cup Basmati Rice
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 tsp dry-roasted Black Peppercorns 
1 Tbsp Whole Cumin Seeds, dry-roasted

Toasted Cashews, chopped
Vegan Butter Substitute, to serve
Chutney, Raita, Gothsu, Pickles, etc to serve

Method:

Dry roast the mung dal until fragrant and lightly golden brown and fragrant; pour onto a plate (so that it does not keep browning further - it would if left in the cooking pan from the residual heat) and let cool completely.

Soak the dal, rice and barley separately for about 30 minutes.

Rinse barley and place in a large pot with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 20 minutes.

Rinse the dal and add to the pot with the turmeric and salt; bring to boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.

Rinse the rice with plenty of water and drain.

Stir in the rice and cracked wheat, bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the pongal looks dry during cooking, add hot water 1/4 cup at a time unless you like a soft pongal; in which case add as much water as needed to get the right consistency you prefer.

Grind the roasted pepper and cumin in a spice mill or using a mortar and pestle.

Sprinkle the ground spices evenly over the pongal and gently mix well.  Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Serve hot topped with a little vegan butter substitute and the cashews with gothsu, chutneys, raitas, or other curries.  Enjoy!!